Saturday, April 29, 2023

This might be the best coffee in the world

If your day doesn’t start until after you’ve downed a steamy cup of coffee, you might be interested in a tasting we recently had the privilege of doing in Bali, Indonesia. I actually drank a cup of Luwak coffee, often called the world’s finest and most exclusive coffee.

It’s also called “bucket list coffee,” a reference to the 2007 movie Bucket List in which procuring a cup of this special brew is one of the items that drives stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson to accomplish before they die.

Larry surrounded by flavorful plants

On a day tour of the island one stop was at Tegal Sari, an amazing coffee and tea plantation. After walking down paths surrounded by coffee beans, vanilla leaves, ginger root, cocoa, lemongrass, hibiscus, and cinnamon (ingredients used in making all-natural coffee and tea flavors) we were treated to a tasting of a dozen tea flavors and, optionally, Luwak coffee.

Why is it so special?

A cup of kopi luwak coffee (kopi refers to the process) generally costs $35 to $80. The high price reflects the traditional, hands-on process for producing the coffee--no machines are used.

The civit at the plantation

The coffee is made from beans retrieved from the droppings of a small local mammal called the Asian palm civit, which is found in Southeast Asia. Production takes a lot of time and energy.

This is a three-month supply of poop.

Ripe coffee berries are ingested by a civit, either in the wild or in captivity. The poop is then collected, every day at Tegal Sari since they have their own civit. When dry, the uncrushed beans are harvested from the droppings, washed and sterilized. Then they are roasted and ground for 20 minutes with a mortar and pestle. It’s a slow process.
Beans taken from civit poop

The flavor is said to be smoother and less bitter than regular coffee. The reason is believed to be because the luwak only eats the ripest coffee fruit, and the fermentation process, along with acidic enzymes and gastric juices in its stomach, alter the composition of amino acids and impact the aroma of the coffee. This gives the beans a richer flavor. Some people say it has hints of caramel and chocolate. Unfortunately, I’m not enough of a coffee connoisseur to detect those subtle tastes.

Is it worth trying?

Sure. It’s a unique coffee, and you might decide the flavor is worth the cost. Anyway, it’s a good cup of joe and a fun experiment. Like regular coffee, it has antioxidants that help protect the body against inflammation and chronic diseases. It also has antibacterial properties and is relatively low in caffeine.

Stirring coffee beans over heat is a tough job.

Beverly drinks luwak coffee, and 
Larry samples different tea flavors.
The coffee we tasted in Bali is not imported but can only be purchased there. While I declined bringing home a bag, we did purchase three different kinds of tea from the 12 in our tasting.

At the very least we had an interesting excursion, and we now have our favorite teas to remind us of the experience.

Photos by Larry and  Beverly Burmeier


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