You could say that poop and coffee are quite related. The color is the primary example that comes to mind, but we all know the after effects of coffee also create a satisfying morning, ahem… toilet session. But the connection ends there; even though some of that office coffee might taste like crap, never would anyone consider drinking a coffee that was actually made from poop, right?!
Oh how wrong we are for assuming the best. It turns out one of the most expensive coffees in the world is produced in large part by a cat’s digestive track!
Kopi Luwak, or coffee from the luwak cat, is a commodity beverage produced primarily in Indonesia. The civet cat (luwak), a small creature that I can only describe as a cross between a raccoon and a ferret, eats coffee cherries and the beans are harvested from the cat’s poop. It is believed that the civet cat naturally selects higher quality beans and the effect of certain enzymes in the cat’s digestive tract on the beans produces a unique tasting coffee.
Intrigued by stories of this unique poop coffee, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit a farm that produces the (in)famous Kopi Luwak. We stopped by a small farm just outside of Ubud, Bali to give it a go.
The site offered a tasting of Kopi Luwak for 50,000 rupiah (a little over $3) a cup. Along with it they provided a free flight of coffee and tea tastings. We really enjoyed the variety of flavored teas, like ginger, coconut, and lemon. The Kopi Luwak, however… well, I’m no coffee connoisseur, but it tasted like an extremely strong version of something you might find being served in a styrofoam cup at a dingy used car dealership. We were not impressed, but some people swear by it!
There is a darker side to Kopi Luwak, however, and I don’t mean it’s poopy color. The specialty coffee is a leading cause of declining civet cat populations in the wild and often the animals held in captivity are awfully mistreated. One of my hotels in Bali had a civet cat in a large cage, no doubt to harvest their own stock of digested beans, and the cat looked active and healthy. The cats at the farm, on the other hand, looked exhausted and malnourished. They had chewed the fur off their tails and their cage was in direct sunlight, despite the fact that they are nocturnal creatures.
The ethics of consuming Kopi Luwak are questionable. Furthermore, in blind taste comparisons people generally label Kopi Luwak as poor tasting and low quality coffee. While the coffee can sell for up to $3000 per kilogram, it seems that the demand and high price tag come solely from the commodity factor. Apparently people like the idea of drinking beverages made from fecal matter. Humans are strange. But if it’s something you’re into, Bali is the place to go to experience the bold flavors of poop coffee!