Would You Dare Try Bali Jungle Cat Poop Coffee?

1 Luwak_patti-morrow

The #1 most expensive coffee in the world is made from the #2 of a jungle cat.

Kopi Luwak, aka Bali jungle cat poop coffee, is produced mainly on the islands in the Indonesian Archipelago. Agrowisata Abian Kusuma Sari, a coffee plantation in the Tampaksiring region of Bali is one such plantation and the location for a taste test extraordinaire.

2 Luwak_patti-morrow

The luwak, or civet, is a small nocturnal animal that looks like a cross between a cat and a ferret. They roam through the jungles after dark, selecting the most ripe, sweetest coffee cherries to feast on for their fruit pulp. The fruit enters the animal’s digestive tract, where natural fermentation takes place as the enzymes seep into the coffee beans.

4 Luwak_patti-morrow

After spending about a day and a half in the civet’s digestive tract, the partially digested beans are expelled in clumps through the defecation process, thus gaining the alias “cat poop coffee.” The collected beans, which have maintained their shape and still covered with the berry’s fleshy inner layers, are harvested, washed and roasted.

3 Luwak_patti-morrow

Even though they are temporarily in contact with bacteria, the beans contain insignificant amounts of pathogenic organisms associated with feces because the outside of the bean is not completely digested and after collection it is thoroughly washing and then roasted, sometimes multiple times.

The Tasting

The Agrowisata Abian Kusuma Sari plantation is ensconced in a jungle lushness enveloping the walking paths on the way to the tasting area. We were guided through the coffee and spice gardens and educated on all the plants in the thick growth. Finally we reached the tasting area, a pleasant, shaded terrace overlooking a stunning panorama of dense jungle valley.

5 Luwak_patti-morrow

We were served around a dozen or so different types and flavors of tea and coffee in small glass demitasse cups to sample. The flavors were wonderful and diverse, some savory, some sweet. I especially liked the Bali Cocoa coffee and the Bali Ginger tea.

6 Luwak_patti-morrow

But the pièce de résistance, of course, was the moment of truth when you make the decision as to whether you will try the poop coffee. I was the only one in our group willing to take on the challenge.

Intrepidly, I grasped the handle, took a big gulp…. and swallowed. I have to admit, I was surprised that it tasted that good. I’m not one of those fans of overly-strong, burnt-tasting coffee, so the smooth flavor with just a tiny hint of caramel tickled my taste buds.

7 Luwak_patti-morrow

I drained the cup, down to the last dropping.

Pop Culture

A scene featuring Kopi Luwak coffee can be seen in the 2008 movie The Bucket List where Morgan Freeman takes great joy in revealing to Jack Nicholson that he has just enjoyed coffee make from cat feces. “You’re shitting me!” says Nicholson, to which Freeman replies amid a huge belly laugh, “No, the cats beat me to it!”

In 1995, an Ig Nobel Prize – a parody of the Nobel Prize whose stated aim is to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think” – was awarded to John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, Georgia, for “Luwak Coffee, the world’s most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luwak (aka, the palm civet), a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.”

The controversies

Aside from the initial repulsion of ingesting something that has been excreted by another species, there are two additional issues of debate surrounding Kopi Luwak coffee – taste and treatment.

1.  Taste

There are mixed opinions regarding the taste of Kopi Luwak. The Specialty Coffee Association of America claims the taste is similar to normal coffee beans. “Cuppers” (professional coffee tasters) claimed that while they were able to distinguish the Kopi Luwak as distinct from the other samples and that it was less acidic, they did not find it to be remarkable, making it more rare than distinct and regarding it as a gimmick.

Supporters argue that the process may improve coffee through selection and digestion. Selection occurs when the animals choose the ripest, sweetest cherries. During digestive fermentation, enzymes permeate the beans with amino acids which may improve the flavor and remove the bitterness.

Most coffee drinkers are able to distinguish a distinct taste. Just the fact that it is less acidic makes it favorable to many people.

2.  Treatment

A 2012 investigation by The Guardian newspaper found Indonesian civets were being confined in cramped cages and force-fed a debilitating diet of coffee cherries in conditions described as “awful” and “horrific.”

At the Agrowisata Abian Kusuma Sari plantation, we were shown where the expelled coffee is collected. Or rather, not shown. “We do not cage the animals,” said our plantation guide. “Nor do we force-feed them the coffee cherries as is unfortunately is being done in some areas. We harvest the defecated beans from the wild before processing them. It is our opinion that the animals will naturally select the sweetest cherries, which ultimately makes the smoothest, best tasting coffee.”

Cost

Kopi Luwak is considered the world’s most expensive coffee due to the uncommon method of production, and scarcity of only 500 lbs. of the beans produced every year. The price for 16 ounces of the beans can be as high as $600. A quick search on Amazon turned up a bargain of $389.99.

My steaming mug of the luwak crappachino was only $5.00.

The experience? Priceless.

Comments

  1. I’m open to trying just about any coffee tradition, but have not yet tasted Bali Jungle Cat Poop. Gimmick or taste treat? Will have to refrain from judgment until I do. :-)
    Anita recently posted…Surprising Ticino MerlotMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      My sentiments exactly, Anita! All in all, it was a fun experience, and a great (and inexpensive!) way to sample Bali jungle cat poop coffee.

  2. Loved your introductory sentence and the many puns – too much to resist! I stayed at a coffee plantation on mainland Indonesia and was told about the cat poop coffee but wan’t brave enough to try it (and still wouldn’t be). You get this week’s Coffee Bravery Award!

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Knew you’d love the humor, Kay, as that’s your style and I love reading your blog! Sometimes I think I might have more courage than brains, but in this case, it worked out — the coffee was GOOD!

  3. I can’t imagine NOT tasting it if given the opportunity! I’m rather shocked that others in your group declined, but not surprised that you were up for it. I enjoyed reading all the details and was gratified to see that at least somebody is concerned about humane treatment of the animals and harvesting responsibly, too. Very, very interesting.
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted…Lukomir: A Look at the Old Ways of BosniaMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Thanks, Betsy! Sometimes I even surprise myself at the things I’ll try! But in this case, it was worth the risk. I really did like the Luwak coffee.

  4. Luwak coffee making sounds like quite the process….I’m not really a cat fan, so I probably would pass on cat poo coffee.
    Vicki Winters recently posted…Battery Park City Block PartyMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      You would be in good company, Vicki! Mostly everyone tells me they would pass. But the cat poo coffee was good! How would you know such things unless you take a risk? :)

  5. Is there anything you don’t try? I like tasting different types of coffees but would draw the line on this one:-)
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…(PHOTOESSAY) Savor the aroma on International Coffee Day (October 1)My Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Ha ha, Irene! So I’ve been asked! I felt it my duty to try one sip, but it was my pleasure to finish the cup.

  6. I did, I liked it, I wrote about it. It tasted like Lebanese coffee to me so that was all good. I just hoped like hell my civet was not caged.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…Nan Tien Temple, Wollongong, AustraliaMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      I agree. The plantation assured me that they did not cage the civets and I did not see any cages during my tour.

  7. Yes we have heard about Bali jungle cat poop coffee and would certainly try it. Less acidic sounds good.

  8. We have a similar kind here in the Philippines. It’s called Coffee Alamid, also made from poop.
    R U S S recently posted…#FoodTrip: Le Petit Soufflé, Century City MallMy Profile

  9. I tried it and so did everyone there at the time we visited. I won’t say I loved it, but its drinkable. I really enjoy some of the other varieties of coffee and teas, which is a lot as I’m not a tea drinker. We wrote about our experience too.
    Lyn – A Hole in my Shoe recently posted…European Christmas Discovery – Travel InsuranceMy Profile

  10. I’ve heard so much about this coffee that I always wanted to try it. Just in Europe it is pretty expensive. One day, I’ll have a cup of poop coffee :)
    Sabine recently posted…15 Most Popular Travel Photos On InstagramMy Profile

  11. I would love to try it. Though I am not a coffee addict, I would definitely pay 5 to try it. In Bulgaria I have seen a cup for at least 40 USD.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing piece of experience!
    Svet Dimitrov recently posted…Malyovitsa Trip – A Hike to the HutMy Profile

  12. This was funny and amazing to read. lol. Loved the article. I am not sure you have convinced me to try Bali Jungle Cat Poop Coffee, but definitely open to adventures. Great post. Thanks for sharing.
    Rachel recently posted…Why Does Starbucks Give You Free Coffee On Your Birthday?My Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Oh, you absolutely must try it if you are in Bali, Rachel! I wouldn’t steer you wrong… the whole experience is fun and the coffee really was delicious. And, of course, you could always just stick to their variety of teas which were also very good.

Speak Your Mind

*


CommentLuv badge