Ever heard of kopi luwak? Yeah, we hadn’t either until we were searching for a good cup of Bali coffee and ended up at the Satria coffee plantation in Ubud. It’s the world’s most expensive coffee. And it’s because of this guy:
This is a civet cat.
His job is simple: eat some coffee beans and go about his day. What he probably doesn’t know is that coffee farmers all over South East Asia wait for him to digest those coffee beans and poop them out so that they can make a distinct bold, bitter coffee.
Now, I grew up eating some weird things. You’d find my sister and I at the sushi bar with my mom pulling the eyeballs out of prawns and eating octopus salad. But, this was going to be a first for me, and especially for Shawn! But hey, that’s why you travel, right!
When we got to the plantation, we were immediately welcomed by the workers who were so friendly and enthusiastic about showing us their farming methods. There were a few civet cats there, but they are nocturnal animals, so they didn’t greet us. They explained to us that civet cats are unique animals because the natural defense mechanism of caffeine in coffee beans doesn’t affect them, and they only prefer prime, ripe coffee cherries. Once they eat them, the outer layers of the bean (the cherries and the pulp) are digested, but the beans are not. As they sit in their stomach and move through their intestines, they are fermented, which is what gives luwak coffee its unique flavor. The beans are then harvested, washed and pounded to be made into drinkable coffee.
We got to try several different coffees and teas, and we liked them all! The tea flavors we tried were mangosteen, turmeric and lavender. The coffee options included vanilla, coconut and ginger. Not to mention, the samples were free which was a really nice touch!
The luwak coffee is offered last and they offer it for $5 a cup. This is expensive, especially by Balinese standards, but there’s only about 600-900 lbs of luwak coffee produced a year, so you pay for its rarity. Normally I’d put a little milk and sugar in my coffee, but it was culturally known that you drink it black, so I tried it that way. It was bitter, dark and very bold. Not really for me, but hey! Amansuka, our driver, said, “at least you got to try world famous Bali catpoopchino!”
So, if you ever go to Bali, make sure to venture north to Ubud and go to the Satria coffee plantation for a very unique experience!