A visit to a Kopi Luwak Coffee Farm in Ubud
Today, I went on a tour of some temples and interesting sites near the city of Ubud in Bali. Felicia, a young Swedish woman I met on my inbound flight from Hong Kong, came along with me. We had chatted on the flight, wished each other well upon landing and went our separate ways. Then about a week later, I was wandering down a street in Ubud looking for a coffee shop and bumped into her! That is serendipitous! I know many tourists in Bali end up in Ubud but what are the odds of bumping into each other in that city, on that street, on that day and that moment. Life is fun. It was great to have her company and we were able to share the cost of the tour.
First we went to Goa Gajaw, the Elephant Caves. This site dates back to the 9th century. There are menacing creatures and demons carved into the rock facade. The images of elephants dominate, hence the name of the site.
Next we went to the Luwak coffee farm. I have to admit that when I saw it listed on the itinerary, I wasn exactly chomping at the bit to visit. I don drink coffee and I thought, how interesting can a coffee plantation be? Wrong!!!
It turns out, we were going to see a Luwak coffee farm. Now, I had never heard of Kopi Luwak before, but it is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling in New York and London for up to $100.00 a cup! We entered the gates and were led along a pathway meandering down the hillside, where the process for making the coffee was explained.
The civet cat is a nocturnal tree cat in Indonesia which snacks on the ripest coffee beans in the field.
I found this picture online of a civet cat in front of ripe coffee berries
Bags of coffee were sold there for $56.00 for 150 grams so guess who won be bringing a bag home! Little did I know at the time that 1kg of roasted civet beans may be sold for more than $600!
There was a really beautiful lounge area to enjoy your drink overlooking some rice fields. They are the most beautiful rice fields I have seen so far absolutely stunning. Too bad my iPhone camera doesn do this scene justice.
A gorgeous view of the rice fields from the coffee lounge
After returning to my hotel, I did a bit of research on this coffee. I had wondered who on earth would pick up some animal dung, and say hey, we should roast this and grind it up and drink it!
I found out that in the early 1700 the Indonesian workers on Dutch coffee plantations were forbidden to collect any coffee berries for themselves. So they collected the beans from the civet cat droppings and roasted them to make their own coffee. Apparently it has a smooth and distinctive taste which made it very popular. The Dutch followed suit and started making it themselves. But collecting the droppings from wild cats is time consuming and costly, contributing to making it the most expensive coffee in the world. Whether it is the novelty or whether the coffee is truly superior, this coffee caught on and now commands high prices. I suppose it was inevitable that unscrupulous people would try to cash in on this new craze. In their greed to harvest as many beans as possible, many if not most have trapped civet cats,
caged the poor animals in abysmal conditions and feed it only coffee beans, which is not its complete diet.
There is a company called Sijahtra that is ethically collecting the beans by paying villagers to collect the droppings in the wild. The farmers collect the droppings and bring them in while they are still fresh. At this stage, it is possible to distinguish between the poop of wild and caged civets. Any farmer caught trying to pass off caged animal poop is dropped from their list. They have established such a good reputation that they are now the only Kopi Luwak coffee sold at Harrods of London at the eye watering price of for 100 grams.