Kopi Luwak – The World’s Most Expensive Coffee

While traipsing around Bali last year during my “Bali Birthday” adventure one of our outings led us on a journey to a farm that produced the Kopi luwak.. This coffee gained notoriety after being featured in The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003 and the myth of its all-natural origins was propagated in a Jack Nicholson–Morgan Freeman scene in the 2007 film The Bucket List.

Kopi luwak (“coffee” in Indonesian, “luwak” from the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, which are part of the Indonesian Archepelago’s 13,677 islands (only 6,000 of which are inhabited), or civet coffee, can sell for $75 per quarter pound. But it’s not strictly the exotic location that makes these beans worth their weight in silver. It’s how they’re “processed.”

Kopi luwak or civet coffee, refers to the seeds of coffee berries once they have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) in Sumatra.  Palm civets feed on berries and pulpy fruits such as figs and palms.  They also eat small vertebrates, insects, ripe fruits and seeds.  On farms, civets are either caged or allowed to roam within defined boundaries.

(I was a little scared to get too close to it hence the far away (terribly displaced) photo of it.)

As folklore has it, kopi luwak in Indonesian, was discovered by plantation workers in colonized Indonesia.  Forbidden from consuming coffee beans picked from the plants, they picked up, cleaned and then roasted the beans excreted by wild Asian palm civets that entered the plantations to eat the ripest coffee cherries. The civets’ digestive systems gave kopi luwak a uniquely rich aroma and smooth, rounded flavor — so much so that the Dutch plantation owners soon became die-hard fans.

(Awww look at us….it was quite humid out that day and I didn’t feel all that great – the day AFTER my birthday no less.)

What started as, presumably, a way for the natives to get coffee without climbing the trees has since evolved into the world’s priciest specialty coffee.

Honestly I can’t even take credit for this experience as it was the desire of my friend in the pic with me above who had this as a must-see during our Bali adventure!!!  I’m glad we did though.

~ Travel Well ~


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