For a lot of us, coffee is the morning fuel we need to keep us going for the rest of the day!! And as an avid coffee lover, when I find a coffee that has that perfect balance of rich and creamy, bitter, goodness it takes me to a place close to heaven! Yes, I am a coffee snob, my father-in-law doesn’t even offer me an instant anymore, having been rejected so many times over the years! So I thought I’d share my experience with you about Kopi Luwak also known as Cat Poo coffee from our recent trip to Bali!! Eeeeeeeeeekk
What is Kopi Luwak?
A cat isn’t actually the correct term for the animal the beans are derived from, in fact the Luwak, being the local name for the Asian palm civet, more closely resembles a mongoose than it does a cat.
The Luwak eats the coffee cherries, naturally picking the ripest cherries, which are then digested and fermented in the Luwak, they pass through the intestine as part of the normal digestive process and are pooped out. The Luwak’s faeces is then picked through by farmers for the fermented cherries and are then used to produce the coffee! Sounds delicious right?!
Who would think to drink poo?
The story goes that back during the colonisation of Indonesia, the Dutch harvested the beans from the plantations. The farmers on the plantations were forbidden from using the beans for themselves. So after noticing the Luwak eating the coffee beans and pooping them out, the farmers started collecting these beans from the ground, and brewed it up. Realising that it tasted better than what they were used to!
And then as tourism to Indonesia increased over the late 20th and 21st century, this form of coffee became more and more popular and is now considered a gourmet delicacy.
Bali Luwak Coffee Plantation
We visited Bali Luwak Coffee Plantation, and it was busy!! It’s hard to say how long it would usually take to get there from our accommodation at the Grand Mirage in Nusa Dua (see review here) as traffic was very heavy so it took close to an hour and a half, one way!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I actually hadn’t done much research on the topic until we got to Bali and the lack of good coffee became an issue.
And I was pleasantly surprised. The plantation is in the middle of a traditional village, set within jungle type gardens. Upon arrival, you are greeted by a guide who shows you through the different stages of how the coffee is treated. We were then accompanied to a table and provides a list of 20 teas and coffee variations to try for free. We then have the option of adding a Kopi Luwak to our tasting which worked out to approximately $5AUD a cup (1 shot).
There is a jungle swing provided as an additional activity for those who don’t mind a thrill with their coffee, we avoided it because the kids were too small although they were pretty keen to give it ago!
Once we finished our tasting the guide showed us to the onsite shop and this is when you are invited to purchase any of the teas and coffees you tasted to take home. A bag of 500g Kopi Luwak was approximately $70 AUD, so the plantation is relying on these purchase to stay in business. We ended up buying the Rosella Tea which the kids all enjoyed, Hunter was pretty keen on it “it tastes like Lollipops!” which was a more reasonable $15AUD. I was concerned about getting it through customs, and we checked the box to declare and had no issues getting through when we got home. (Your can bring up to 1kg of commercially prepared coffee in to Australia.)
How does it taste?
You get the option of having the Kopi Luwak as a cappuccino or latte, but we went with the traditional short black. It was smooth and maybe not as bitter as expected and overall enjoyable to drink. Especially since we had been hanging for a good coffee. But was it better than what we get up at our local………..I’d have to say it wasn’t noticeably different!
Animal welfare, is it ethical?
Look the animal welfare is not great, and the short answer is no, based on western standards of animal treatment, its not ethical! Due to Kopi Luwak rise in popularity the civets are increasingly becoming captured from the wild, kept in cages and are fed coffee beans to mass produce the blend, when their diet should also include a variety of fruits and berries.
Consideration does need to be given to the Balinese economy and the population, in which 80% is based on tourism. So a majority of people are in some way or another employed through tourism. Therefore, you can see the incentive behind the plantation owners to continue making this a high tourist attraction.
Not only did our trip to the plantation, fund our private driver for the day, we also ate in the local village supporting another family, not to mention the employment of all the locals who work at the plantation. Our tour guide was a 20-year-old student funding himself through college by working at the plantation and guess what he was studying? Tourism! He has the hope of working in one of the bigger hotels once he had completed his degree.
So like everything there are pros and cons to all aspects of business, yes the Luwak are caged and fed for the production of the coffee, yes the industry is predominately fueled by overseas travelers to the region helped made famous by The Bucket List movie. And through tourism, much of the population, men, women and children, are working to make ends meet, and this is just one avenue that supports them.
I’d love to discuss this topic with you further, so please feel free to leave a comment below.
Do you need to drive traffic and increase sales in your business? I can show you how here!
If you want to try some wild (sustainable) harvested Kopi Luwak, in your own home check out some options below: