Saturday 19 April 2014

Indonesia: Kopi Luwak

Wild Kopi Luwa - Mandailing Coffee EstateA few years ago, I watched a television article on Kopi Luwak, the coffee made from the beans pooped out by Asian civets. More recently the coffee, which was featured in one of those endless streams of round-the-world adventure or chef goes travelling programmes, raised a bit interest in someone who is always willing to try something different.

In Jakarta this week, I bought a small packet of ‘Wild Kopi Luwak’ to see what the fuss was about. This morning, after carefully brewing the medium grind, I sat in front of the computer to sample said coffee which was not as strong as I was expecting, but smooth with just a hint of sweetness. It was certainly very pleasant but not worth the money, particularly when there are so many good coffees around, and I don’t mean the ubiquitous shite you get on every high street. I have memories of a wooden-floored coffee (bean) shop in my past with stained walls which almost gave you a headache as you walked round the rows of hessian bags stuffed with pungent beans.

My internet rummages uncovered another aspect of this ‘exotic’ coffee which is the treatment of the animals on Asian plantations. While some owners allow the creatures to roam in the wild, there are many that keep the civets in appalling conditions, which suggests the trade should be better regulated or perhaps banned altogether.

The brand of coffee I bought in Jakarta, Mandailing Estate Coffee states on its website that the civets run wild in their eco-friendly plantations, which after reading a few articles on the subject, reduces the level of guilt in having purchased the over-priced product.

Suffice to say, that was the first and last packet of Kopi Luwak I shall purchase.

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