WHAT IS KOPI LUWAK?
This article tells about good coffee and exotic animals. It is the first in a series of travel notes, reviews and ratings for interesting places on Bali Island and Singapore.
Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. It is produced only in South Asia because it is the habitat of the civets. If you haven’t heard of Kopi Luwak, now you’re wondering what’s the connection between the two- coffee and civet, or straight, what is this civet.
Kopy Luwak Blossom
The civet or luwak, as they call it on the island of Bali, is similar to cats, from the family Viverridae , which are the closest species to the first ancestor felids, i.e. cats. It feeds on palm leaves, fruits and small insects, hunts at night, but likes to eat coffee grains. No, it doesn’t get excited, running like crazy in the jungle because it does not eat the coffee grain itself, which we digest and steam to make an energizing aromatic beverage. It eats only the skin that is sweet and delicious. So the civet is looking for only ripe grains with a nice red color, i.e. She is capricious, selects only the best, a true gourmand and a great connoisseur of coffee. 😊 After swallowing the grains, the gastrointestinal tract only utilizes the skin, the beans are thrown away, with a very thin layer left over. This excrement is collected by the farmers, soaked with hot water and allowed to dry. After that the remains of thin skin layer are peeled off and the clean beans are roasted, ground and brewed under a special method, which I will tell below.
If you’re wondering what sick-brain person decided to drink coffee from the crap of an ancient animal, I’m going to answer that there is no such a strange story behind it. In the 18th century, in the territories of the Dutch East Indies, including the islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra, the Dutch colonizers established coffee plantations. The landlords did not allow farmers to drink the coffee they produce themselves. As the workers who dig gold are not allowed to take from it. 😉
However, farmers were very much willing to try the coffee and, having noticed that civets poop it as whole pieces, they decided to clean it, roast, grind and brew it. The bosses saw this and decided to try it. They liked it much more than the ordinary coffee and this is how they adopted a new technology of coffee production. Now the civet coffee is drunk all over the world, more over it is the most expensive coffee. The wholesale price varies from USD 100 to USD 700 per kilogram. Looks like worth of investment. I have to check the stock exchange! 😉
Bali island is the most famous and also the first producer of this exotic, for some wonderful, for others downright nasty coffee.
In Bali there are coffee plantations, welcoming tourists, where you can see Robusta and Arabica trees, vanilla trees, pineapple and ginger in natural environment. You can see or even caress civets, taste different coffees and teas. From there you can buy spices, coffee, tea and other local things of organic origin. Kopi Luwak 50 gr costs about EUR 15. In Bulgaria you can find it in the same weight for EUR 40.
There is also a moral problem with the production of this coffee. Some farmers close civets in cages and only trample them with coffee. In practice, they spoil themselves the quality of their production because they do not allow the civet to eat fully, to choose only the best grains, it is locked and stressed or depressed, which leads to a bad gastrointestinal tract and hormones that affect the quality of the coffee. Also, as with pigs, if they are kept in unhygienic and stressful conditions, this affects the smell of the meat subsequently. See more in my article WHY PORK CHOPS CAN SMELL UNPLEASANT?
Some nature defenders have founded movement against the use of civets for human purposes, which is called Cut the Crap. Nice pun! 🙂
They say that on the island of Bali they keep the humane way of producing Kopi Luwak.
Civets are free to go around the plantation, eat their own berries and have fun.
In the Coffee Gardens, where tourists go, they show civets in cages and say that the animals spend only a few days there, to be seen by visitors and are put back into the plantation.
Such type if coffee like Kopi Luwak is produced on the entire Indonesian archipelago, as well as in the Philippines, and Vietnam.
In Vietnam they do not use animals but soak the grains in enzymes that mimic the processing of the coffee in civet’s stomach. It is considered that the quality of the coffee is due to the good selection of grains by the little animal and the special fermentation process in its gastrointestinal tract. So that substitution is not a solution.
Some professionals say that this coffee is downright nasty, that it scores levels below the lowest categories with which it has been compared at tastings. Others say that the customers like it because it has a smoother taste and beautiful flavor.
I find it nice, dense with good aroma.
In a coffee plantation we were offered a brew in a very interesting way.
They put the ground coffee in the bottom of a glass vessel, which is called a siphon that resembles an hourglass. In the lower part they pour water and warm it up with a flame. It begins to evaporate and the whole liquid is picked up on a tube on the upper level of the siphon where the coffee is boiled. There it rises, just like when you boil the Turkish coffee and as it starts to cool, it descends back down in the lower part of the device and then it is served. Otherwise on Bali Island, they brew the coffee like the Turkish/Greek in the Balkans, or just steam it with hot water like tea.
Kopi Luwak Coffee
As you will see in my article GO TO LOCAVORE TO GO, Bali also offers espresso as well as other variations, but they are imported by foreigners on the island.
If you would like to know what coffee is Kopi Luwak, I’d let you decide by yourself. It’s best to go to Bali and try on spot at a coffee plantation. The experience is good, not so much the fact that you drank the most expensive coffee in the world, but rather the opportunity to see a live coffee on the shrub, its red color grains and white blossoms. To see the strange animal whose feces the world has gone crazy about, giving out crazy money for it, take a walk in a real jungle, see how some goods from the supermarket look in nature.
Kopi Luwak Preparation
You remember the movie The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? There was a dialogue in which Jack Nicholson’s character, a big-pocket, reads the written explanation by Morgan Freeman’s character for the extraction of his favorite coffee Kopi Luwak which he carries everywhere with him. At the end of the description, big-pocket understands that this coffee is defecated by a cat-like animal and says “You are shitting me!”. The other one answers: “Cats beat me to it!” and begins to laugh out loud, and shortly afterwards they both laugh loud.
This is how, the cult coffee can inspire energy without even being brewed and tasted.
If you decide to taste it at one of the best places in the world, where it is born and collected, the Bali Island, you can buy at a fairly decent price tickets from Qatar Airways. From Sofia we flew to the capital of Qatar, Doha. The airport is very pleasant, the shops are very luxurious and expensive. 😊
Then from Doha to Denpasar there is a 10-hours flight in comfort and good service by the on-board crew. Try to push your sleep to the new time zone. The time difference between Sofia and Bali is 5 hours. Sofia and Doha are in the same zone.
In booking.com box, you can book your stay directly here in my blog, like I did. If you are a family of four, I recommend to stay at Ubud Raya Resort in Ubud two-bedroom villa Arjuna, and in the Rumah Bali Bed and Breakfast at Nusa Dua, the two-bedroom Hibiscus villa. Why I recommend them exactly, you can read in my next posts.