Kopi luwak: the most expensive coffee in the world

October 30, 2011

Luwak

Luwak or Asian Palm civet

One of the things I had in mind when arriving in Bali, was to try the best coffee in the world (Kopi Luwak) that can be found in Indonesia. In a scene of the film “The bucket list”, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman talk about this coffee and they have it on their list of things to do before they die.

Definetely all coffee lovers should taste Kopi Luwak at least once in life.

On the first night we went for a walk in Seminyak. I saw a promotional sign for the coffee in a shop and made a mental note of the location to return some other day.

The following day we organised an excursion with Boby (our driver and local guide) as he suggested different places we could visit. I remembered the coffee and asked him if he could take us somewhere to drink Kopi Luwak.

Of course – he said. I have a friend a little bit to the north, so we can go today after lunch.

What he didn’t mention was that “a little bit to the north” was a two hour trip, to the village of Kintamani. To get there, we drove across rice plantations, the sacred monkeys forest, we stopped at the artistic town of Ubud and we saw an infinity of temples and curiosities on the way.

We didn’t know that we were going to a coffee plantation, and about to taste eight different coffee flavours before tasting THE coffee.

We finally arrived there and Boby’s friend was waiting for us. To our surprise, he spoke several languages, including Spanish. He gave us a tour of the plantation and we met the hero of this story: the luwak (this is the name the locals give to the little mammal, also known as Asian Palm civet.)

The luwak eats the coffee beans and defecates them without digesting. He selects only the best beans and these undertake a chemical process in the stomach that takes the bitter flavour away. Then, the beans are cleaned and processed before being ready to use.

I can imagine many of you with a disgusted expression on your face asking if I drank the coffee with the luwak poo. Yes, I did and enjoyed it!

They brought us a huge variety of coffees to try and also a couple of teas. Paradise for any coffee lover! We tasted coffee with ginseng, with chilli, with vanilla, moka with chocolate, Bali original coffee and a couple of others that I don’t even remember.

All of them were great, until Kopi Luwak arrived in a bigger and different cup to the others. Kopi means coffee in Indonesian, one of the few words I learnt.

probando distintos cafés

trying different coffees

I found it similar to turkish coffee, but the flavour was more intense, sweeter and nicer. The Kopi Luwak without sugar is sweet and it’s by far the best coffee I ever tried in my whole life. Its flavour is unique and I’m glad and grateful to have travelled for two hours to get there and have had this experience.

Foolishly I bought a package of 150gr and paid $50 australian dollars, imagining I’d have the pleasure of enjoying this back in Sydney.

But when I got to customs and I declared it to avoid a fine, they sent me to quarantine, where they asked me what kind of food was I bringing into Australia. I said coffee and they enquired what kind of coffee. I said Kopi Luwak and that was the end of my dreams.

I was told that the Australian Government has assesed this coffee and decided that the process of making it, is not safe for our flora and fauna, since there is an animal involved. So, they could hold the coffee there for me and charge $30, while I apply for an import license in Canberra that costs around $300.

But I don’t have any intentions of importing coffee, it’s only for my personal use! – I cried without any compassion from the customs agent.

These are the regulations -the lady replied. So if you don’t want to import it, then I could throw it away in the rubbish bin right now for free.

Kopi Luwak

Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world

Yes, please – I barked. Do me a favour and throw it in the bin. I guess that I even have to thank you for that? I was furious, but I have to admit that even though I was about to cry, it wasn’t as painful as other ocassions when coming back from my hometown, customs confiscated a couple of pots of dulce de leche (caramel) and alfajores.

Nevertheless, if you have the opportunity to taste Kopi Luwak, please do it! You won’t regret it at all. But, if you plan to bring it into Australia, be aware of the customs limitations… or don’t dare to declare it.

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