What to know and where to go
Kopi luwak (unofficially known as cat-poop coffee) is one of the most exclusive and sought-after coffees in the world – and also one with the strangest manufacturing process! Produced on our doorstep in the mountains of Sumatra, Java and Bali, this genuinely Indonesian product has coffee connoisseurs worldwide clamouring for more. For the curious, we present everything you need to know about these exotic rich-flavoured beans.
Coffee beans are collected from the droppings of the palm civet (known locally as the luwak), a small cat-like creature which gobbles up the plumpest ripe coffee cherries during its nocturnal strolls through coffee plantations. A portion of the caffeine is absorbed while the cherries are in the animal’s intestine and proteins in the bean are broken down. The stone (coffee bean) is then passed and collected. This process reduces the bitterness and creates a smoother, richer tasting coffee. This hard-to-believe journey from the plantation to our coffee cup is what makes kopi luwak extremely rare and – extremely expensive.
Beware of Fakes
Why is it all around us, in malls and even in supermarkets?
First things first, the word “luwak” doesn’t necessarily mean that the coffee comes from the animal. In fact, there is a cheap local white coffee with the brand name of “Luwak”. So do look past the image of this feral feline – a mere marketing ploy – on the packaging to see what you are buying!Beware of kopi-luwak- flavoured coffee blends as well as they’re never authentic. In most cases, the flavouring comes from a minuscule amount of kopi luwak blended with other beans, and the word “organic” means that the plantation uses organic fertilizer and the word “wild” (as in “genuine wild kopi luwak”) usually refers to caged wild animals, not animals that actually live in the wild.
Due to an increased demand for the product, it’s now almost impossible to find genuine “wild-sourced” kopi luwak, and the beans now come from caged wild animals. To achieve higher production levels, the captive palm civets are allegedly fed coffee cherries only, which is an unnatural diet, leading to accusations of cruelty. But as the Jakarta Globe newspaper pointed out, not all civet coffee farmers are guilty of these practices. The key to navigating these murky waters is to do your research and find sustainably sourced, cruelty-free kopi luwak. It’s difficult but possible.
Where to find kopi luwak in Jakarta
Kopi Luwak cafes can be found in many large malls in the city. Their kopi luwak is patented and has a certification of authenticity. It’s a pity they allow smoking in their cafes as nothing should interfere with the pleasure of sipping this coffee! Check out their La Maison Kopi Luwak in Plaza Indonesia, it’s the best place to try this caffeine delicacy.
Jh Luwak Coffee
Only using beans from wild luwaks, Jh Luwak Coffee also provides certificates guaranteeing authenticity. They only have one coffee shop in town, but the beans are sold at Fortune Star Airport Duty Free as well. You can order regular coffee, kopi luwak, coffee machines, and even gift sets online as well.
Jh Luwak Coffee, Terminal 2D Departure Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Jakarta, p: 62-21/555-6292.
A coffee drinker’s hotspot in Jakarta is Anomali Coffee, known for their top-quality beans sourced from around Indonesia and kopi luwak. Freshly roasted on site, the coffee beans are packaged for sale, but they will brew you a cup of civet coffee on request.
A specialty coffee company, the ecologically minded and animal-friendly folks at Maharaja Coffee have blacklisted suppliers who use caged animals, condemning the practice for being destructive to the future of the kopi luwak industry. Their products are available in major supermarkets like Foodhall and Kemchicks throughout the city.
However, to try their coffee in style the place to go is the Nirwana Lounge at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta. The elegant space is the perfect setting to sup this rich coffee.
So now you know! Do you still poo-poo the idea or are you curious enough to give it a try?