Experience the Worlds Most Expensive Coffee in Asia with U.

All adventure travel in Asia and Indonesia should include the unique experience of drinking Kopi Luwak

Hold onto your seats, because U. backpacking and adventure travel experts are about to share with you not only the most expensive but also the most unique (if not cringe-worthy) coffee in the world!

In a nut shell (or a cafe bean as is this case….), Kopi Luwak is made from the droppings of a Luwak (think of a cross between a fox and a racoon)!!! The name derives from Kopi = meaning a cup of coffee and Luwak = a civet; so ‘a cup of civet coffee’. Yes, you heard right… the Luwak are found throughout Indonesia, and South / Southeast Asia and are connoisseurs of coffee beans, preferring to dine on only the most purest and perfectly ripened red coffee fruit.

After going through the process of being digested, fermented and then pooped out, the scavenged semi digested bean is considered to be in a perfect state of balance to make a perfectly sweet and almost chocolate-like coffee!

Lets break it down even further:

The "Science"

Civets feed mainly on coffee berries. In the wild, they are known to be very selective: they choose the best quality berries at the peak of ripeness. Their droppings contain a high concentration of coffee beans, and as they are not fully digested, they are eliminated whole. From consumption to excretion, these beans are chemically modified by the gastric processes which take place in the civet’s stomach. Science suggests that the enzymes that are secreted denature the proteins that give the coffee its bitter taste, resulting in a much sweeter coffee. This, together with the fermentation process in which they are involved, gives the coffee its unique taste.

At the end of the process, we are left with a bean that makes a coffee with much more depth and flavour than the original bean could offer. 

The taste

Kopi Luwak is a particularly intense, sweet, nutty, earthy drink, and tends towards a slightly thicker and more dense liquid.  The enzymes that are secreted coupled by the fermentation process undertaken in the gut, alter the natural proteins of the beans, gives the coffee its bitter taste, resulting in a much sweeter coffee. This natural sweetness has hints of chocolate and it’s recommended to take the coffee without sweeteners such as sugar.

The Cost of Civet or Kopi Luwak Coffee

In the beginning, the collection of Civet / Luwak droppings was done manually and sourced directly from scavenging in nature. This resulted in a labour intensive process which has traditionally been reflected in the costs.

To give you an idea, if you were to try it in Europe, the cost per kilo can range from €410 euro to €1,000 euros per kilogram depending on where the coffee was sourced, and if you are buying direct online or from a high-street shop. In a cafe in Europe you can expect to pay between €40 and €70 euros for a cup, but in Indonesia it’s easy to get a cup for around €5 euros; However, consider this – in 2022, the current average salary in Indonesia is €8 Euro a month. Of course there are wealthy outliers, but on average, a cuppa Kopi Luwak will cost you the equivalent to almost a months salary of the barista serving it. And there is something fundamentally wrong with this…

Travel Responsibly - Kopi Luwak and Animal Exploitation

Indonesia is one of the countries that produces the most coffee per year, but it is also a poor country with poor living conditions. This, added to the exclusivity of Kopi Luwak and the high price at which it is sold, has lead to the civet being captured in masse, farmed, breed and held in captivity in unnatural circumstances.

At purpose built Civet farms, civets are kept in small cages and forced to consume as many coffee berries as possible, the extent of which equates to more consumption of berries in one month than that which is naturally consumed in one year in the wild.  Because of this, captive civets often develop nutritional deficiencies, loose part of their fur and can even become seriously ill and die. The limited diet fed to the Lusaka also changes the balance of flavours as their dietary tracks are not exposed to the natural fauna and food range that it would normally eat in the wild!

In addition, the civet is a solitary animal that does not like to be in company, which further increases the problems of confinement and can lead to bizarre or unpredictable behaviour – frantic circling in the cage or anxious biting of the bars.

Prestigious international television channels such as the BBC and National Geographic have made documentaries denouncing the exploitation suffered by civets due to the production of ‘the most expensive coffee in the world’, and the cruelty of the facts. The animal rights organisation PETA also visited a number of civet farms and demanded their closure after observing the poor conditions in which the Lusaka are forced to live in.

Sustainable and Cruelty Free Kopi Luwak

If you still want to try ‘the world’s most expensive coffee’ despite having read about the potential of animal cruelty then we urge you to follow the below recommendations:

  1. Buy From a Trusted Sustainable and Cruelty Free Company

    Read the packaging or ask the questions at your coffee shop – take responsibility for only buying Kopi Luwak from supplier who guarantee and have been peer reviewed as having had their beans sourced naturally from the wild.

  2. Be Wary of Low Priced Kopi Luwak

    It will always be possible to find Kopi Luwak at cheaper rates, but it’s very likely that it’s either counterfeit or come from a mass producing farm with sub standard animal welfare care programs.

    In the process of counterfeiting civet coffee, the beans are hand-treated and have never actually passed through a civet. Flavours are artificially added to mimic the taste experience. And farms who cage the Luwak and have high yield often sell at lower costs to move their product.

    We recommend you take a few minutes to do a little online research on the brand or the shop you are buying from to ensure you can trace the beans from an ethical, sustainable, natural, and cruelty free company.

  3. Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High

    Let’s keep it real people. Coffee is an acquired taste with a whole range of complex variations. Individualised approaches to Geo climates, farming methods and pre/post production & roasting have ensured that the variances and nuances of coffee growing has become an artwork in todays consumer profile.

    Taste is 100% unique to each of us. Having been branded as ‘the most expensive coffee in the world’, it invites you to think that its taste is going to rock your world and that it will undoubtably be the best coffee you have ever tasted. No one can predict what its taste effect will be on you personally.

    We urge you to have an open mind and when tasting for the first time, take a moment to smell the aroma, sip the beverage and always, always, remember the animals, process and journey the beans have had in order to make that cuppa joe! Be open to the whole experience, drink with a friend and enjoy!

  4. Drink it Black

    Kopi Luwak is best drunk black without anything artificial, such as sugar or milk, added so you can truly enjoy the full scope of flavours. You will hardly notice any bitterness and it has a sweetness that makes it advisable to drink it on its own.

  5. Don’t Overdo It

    One cuppa is a true treat, two is indulgence. Anything more is excess. And remember, Kopi Luwak  is coffee, so despite its many peculiarities, it’s healthier to drink water!

U.’s Top Travel Tip for a Great Cuppa Kopi Luwak

The best place to get civet coffee in Bali is at the Eco Café

Eco Café is a terrace facing the waterfall, with a roof to protect you from the rain and a more than generous menu. It is hidden away from the crowded tourist areas of Bali.

Trips to get you here

Sun, sand, surf, sunrises and sunsets – authentic Bali and the tropical Gili Islands

Almost the perfect adventure tour of bali and thailand, experiencing culture, beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, amazing food, and even more amazing people!

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