A Taste of Kopi Luwak
We first mentioned kopi luwak, or palm civet coffee, while we were traveling in Vietnam. Considered the most expensive coffee in the world (yes, even more expensive than Starbucks), the beans undergo one unusual step in the processing which leaves some people gulping in delight and others gagging in disgust.
Coffee berries are fed to civet cats which function as little enzyme machines shortening peptide bonds and increasing free amino acids in the beans. After passing the precious load, the beans are collected, washed, sun-dried and lightly roasted. Connoisseurs swear the chemical changes make for a tastier and less bitter coffee blend.
Some of you may remember from our Vietnam post that we were quite skeptical about whether the weasel coffee we sampled there was authentic. So if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
Fast forward to our recent bike tour to Ubud. After the trip, we stopped by a coffee farm to take another shot at the unusual brew – different shop, different civet. Actually, the small farm was a complete coffee and tea tasting experience with kopi luwak as the final highlight.
After free samples of vanilla coffee, lemon tea, sweet hot cocoa (as well as a side dish of shavings of orange-tinted chocolate), Lisa, Garrett, Tony and I got to taste the real kopi luwak (fresh from the weasel, so to speak). Kurt and Aimee passed on the experience. At $6 for an expresso-sized cup complete with cinnamon bark stirrer, the price for the luxurious drink was “a bargain.” But after so much build-up, our expectations were high.
Drum roll. It tasted… just like… uhhh… Starbucks. What the hell?!? I would accuse Starbucks of getting its beans out of a civet’s butt, but – well – cost tells me otherwise. I’ve never really liked Starbucks coffee, but I guess it tastes just like the most expensive coffee in the world. I might have to reconsider my opinion of Starbucks. You don’t suppose they have a little civet sweatshop somewhere in the third world, do you?