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The Pricey Pursuit of Perfect Coffee: My Visit to a Kopi Luwak Farm in Bali

While here on the beautiful island of Bali, I knew that I wanted to visit a Kopi Luwak cooperative. Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive and exclusive coffee varieties in the world, revered by coffee lovers around the world. The unique flavour of this coffee comes from the fact that the beans are eaten and then eliminated by the civet cat... yes, you read that correctly: this is cat-poop coffee. This might sound strange, but coffee connoisseurs swear by its rich and distinctive taste. Come meander with me to learn all about the process of making Kopi Luwak and the cooperative that produces it.

The prized brew

Getting There

To visit the Cantik Kopi Luwak cooperative, there are no public transportation options. You will need to rent a scooter or a car (beware of the terrifying traffic), take a taxi, or book a tour through a travel agency. However, I highly recommend hiring a private driver for the day, as it offers the most flexibility and convenience.


During my visit, I had the pleasure of being driven by Yogy, the brother of Dessy Serianti, who is the owner of a private driver service in Ubud. Yogy was an excellent driver and guide, and he went out of his way to ensure that my visit to the Kopi Luwak cooperative (amongst many other stops) was enjoyable and informative.

Yogi, my driver for the day

In addition to providing transportation, private drivers can also offer valuable insights into the local culture and attractions. Yogy was able to point out various landmarks, explain the historical significance of the sights we were seeing. He also answered my many questions and helped me to improve my use of Indonesian which delighted all the locals I met throughout the day.


The Civet Cat

The Asian palm civet cat is a small nocturnal and solitary mammal that to my North American eye looks nothing like a cat. Their diet consists of a variety of fruits, insects, and even small mammals. However, a real treat for civets are whole ripe coffee berries.


The civet cat is apparently very picky when it comes to choosing which coffee berries to eat. It will only eat the ripest and sweetest berries. After the civet cat eats the coffee berries, the beans pass through its digestive system and are passed whole. The enzymes in the cat's stomach break down the proteins and absorb some of the cat's digestive juices resulting in its unique smooth and less bitter taste.

Civet Cat eating coffee berries


While the idea of cat poop coffee might seem rather disgusting and unappetizing, Kopi Luwak is highly prized by coffee lovers around the world that is has become one of the most expensive coffees on the market, with prices ranging from $100 to $600 per pound! This is not a regular beverage for those on a tight budget but is very worthy of a travel splurge.


The Cooperative

The Cantik Kopi Luwak cooperative that I visited is in the central highlands of the island, not far from Ubud. The cooperative is nestled amidst lush green forests and rolling hills, perfect for the civet cats.

As Yogy and I arrived at the cooperative in the middle of a deluge of rain, we were greeted by a friendly staff member, who welcomed us with a warm smile and an umbrella. As we walked along the pathway to the roasting area, the guide pointed out the arabica and robusto coffee plants as well as cacao and pepper plants. We were also introduced to two caged civet cats.


Coffee berries growing

The cooperative is set up in a traditional Balinese style, with several open-air structures. The processing area is located in the center of the jungle complex. The tasting area is set up to allow visitors to enjoy the stunning valley views.

Cacao pod


The cooperative is run by a group of about 35 local farmers who have been working together for generations to produce some of the finest cat-poop coffee in the world. The farmers are experts on the civet, and use their knowledge to encourage the cats to eat the best berries. The civets roam freely in the area but don't expect to see the free ones since these are nocturnal animals.


The process from original droppings (lower right). Cocoa and ginger at the top


To start the processing, farmers collect the civet droppings and carefully clean and process the beans. The beans are then roasted over fire, using traditional Balinese techniques. The fire-roasted beans are pounded into powder using a large wooden pestle and mortar.

I was delighted to discover that they offered a total of 12 samples of blended coffees, teas, and cocoa for free giving me the chance to taste a variety of their products. The samples were beautifully presented on a long tray in small cups arranged in a line, each containing a different blend of coffee, herbal tea, or cocoa. Our guide and the information card on the tray explained the unique characteristics of each blend, including the type of beans used, the roasting process, the flavour profiles and various health benefits for each. The coffee blends ranged from light and fruity to dark and robust, each very distinctive. The cocoa & Bali coffee blend and the vanilla blend were my favourites from the samples. The herbal teas and cocoa were also delicious.


After sampling the various blends, I really wanted to taste the prized Kopi Luwak coffee, which is not included in the sampling. A cup of this exclusive brew is an additional charge. This makes perfect sense to me once I realized the cost of a pound of beans. These hard-working farmers can't be giving this away for free.


I decided to splurge and order a cup of the Kopi Luwak coffee for myself and Yogy, and it was worth every penny. The coffee is smooth and velvety with a rich, complex flavour. It was the best coffee I have ever tasted. It was immediately apparent why Kopi Luwak is one of the most exclusive and prized coffees in the world. After finishing the samples I was led to their store where I purchased a pound of coffee for myself and a smaller bag for a gift, which totally blew my coffee budget for the next year.

Even though the cost made me gasp, I feel that it was worth it for the chance to taste such a rare and special product and to support a local cooperative that is committed to sustainable and ethical farming practices. Bringing home a bag of Kopi Luwak coffee beans will allow me to share the experience with friends and family.

I highly recommend a visit to the Kopi Luwak cooperative for any coffee lover visiting Bali. It's a unique and educational experience that showcases the incredible skill and dedication of the local farmers and producers and every traveller needs a few unique splurges on every trip.

 

Thanks for meandering with me! Let me know your best coffee experience in the comments. Help keep the blog ad-free by sharing the link with a travelling friend or, even better, through your social media. Become a member/subscriber (for free!) to get notified of new content and to get access to our members' discussion group.



4 則留言


訪客
4月22日

The Luwak farms in Bali are tourist scams. The coffee is of poor quality and the farming procedures are far below standard and abusive to the civets. Proper luwak comes from Java, Sumatra and a small area in Vietnam. Bali just sells trash to gullible tourists and pass it off as the real deal

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
4月23日
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Thanks for your perspective, even with your harsh viewpoint. I am not enough of a coffee connoisseur to notice the flavour subtleties and enjoyed the experience.

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
2023年4月19日

There are many kopi luwat plantations around. You could probably visit a different one each day of your visit. A small cup (only 2/3 is drinkable - the rest is sludge) costs about 50,000 IDR but in cafes can be twice as much. A pound of beans starts at 1,000,000 IDR and rises from there.


It is served without milk but sugar or sugar syrup is offered. The Balinese drink it plain... I added a bit of sweetness.


It was a fascinating experience :)

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訪客
2023年4月17日

This is a wonderful experience and totally up my street. I've got a few questions and hope you don't mind? How much was the cup of coffee in the end? Are there more companies producing this coffee on the island? Do you drink it pure or is there milk involved?


Carolin | SoloTravelStory

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