When TD’s brother visited us in Jakarta, he was eager to finally cross something of his Bucket List: to try the Kopi Luwak (or Civet Cat poop coffee) which is the most expensive coffee in the world. Please forgive the photos since these were taken with a phone camera.
TD and I were never really motivated to try Kopi Luwak until his brother visited. We are not coffee connoisseurs and are happy with delicious Indonesian coffee grounds in a French Press or even Good Day Caribbean Nut instant coffee (even their instant coffee in Indonesia is delicious). We weren’t really attracted to it because of it’s “origins” and the price. However I was persuaded to take a sip. TD just could not be convinced to sip what he calls “poop coffee” =P In my humble opinion, it tasted like normal coffee. (Please don’t take my word for it as I am no expert.) According to TD’s brother who drinks many cups of coffee in Switzerland (and loves a good double shot of espresso) his Nespresso, which is cheaper, is probably just as good or even better than Kopi Luwak. However when I tried it with a teaspoon of sugar, the taste was quite good, tasted smooth and caramel-y.
Kopi luwak coffee comes from the Indonesian Island of Java and Sumatra, an area well known for its excellent coffee. Also native to the area is a small civet-like animal called a Paradoxurus. That’s the scientific name, the locals call them luwaks. These little mammals live in the trees and one of their favorite foods is the red, ripe coffee cherry. They eat the cherries , bean and all. While the bean is in the little guy’s stomach, it undergoes chemical treatments and fermentations. The bean finishes its journey through the digestive system, and exits. The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then roasted and ground just like any other coffee.
I found it a bit of a downer that the preparation is similar to instant coffee. They place an ornate gold and white cup in front of you and then place hot water from a thermos and take the packet from a nice bag and place it inside the cup and mix it. Then they tell you the exact number of minutes to wait before drinking it. The coffee is allowed to settle instead of being filtered out unlike the way it’s done with the French Press or coffee machine.
This Kopi Luwak was Featured on Oprah because of how unique and expensive it is. The best coffee beans are sniffed out by the civet cat, digested then pooped out. Apparently the acids (which give it a bitter taste) are digested by the cat. I really am curious about how this kind of coffee was ever discovered in the first place. Must have been somewhat mad to even considering picking up poop, washing out the coffee beans and then drinking it! Hahaha ewwww.
One must wonder about the circumstances that brought about the first cup of Kopi Luwak coffee. Who would think to (or even want to) collect and roast beans out of animal feces? Perhaps a native figured it was easier to collect the beans from the ground this way, rather than having to work harder and pick them from the trees? We’ll likely never know. But because of the strange method of collecting, there isn’t much Kopi Luwak produced in the world. The resulting coffee is said to be like no other. It has rich, heavy flavor with hints of caramel or chocolate. Other terms used to describe it are earthy, musty and exotic. The body is almost syrupy and it’s very smooth.
I saw a feature on coffee on Discovery Channel’s and according to a study by coffee experts, in a blind taste test, Kopi Luwak can not be distinguished from the cheapest poorest quality grade coffee beans. Another mark against Kopi Luwak for me is the treatment of the animal that produce them. If whatever I’ve been reading is true, then the higher demand and luxury prices for supposedly “wild” Kopi Luwak is causing local farmers to resort to capturing the civet cats and placing them in cages. It’s quite sad isn’t it?
So in the end, I would recommend going to Kopi Luwak Café for their amazing White Choco Toblerone Iced Coffee concoction (this is not made with Kopi Luwak). It is SO delicious! This is available in Kopi Luwak Grand Indonesia. However I couldn’t find it in the menu of Kopi Luwak Pacific Place. Trust me, this is amazing! A definite must try if you are in Kopi Luwak Cafe. I wish I had tried more of their food as well. They look really good on their menu.
Kopi Luwak Cafe ambiance
Kopi Luwak coffee shops (the bigger ones) have great interiors. They use local materials mixed with modern ones that are reminiscent of the coffee making process.
Have you ever tried Kopi Luwak? What did you think? After reading the articles on how the Civet Cat’s are treated, would you still drink it?
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- Coffee shop locations in Indonesia
- Sample images of their menu (this is just a sample and may not be updated)