Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kopi Luwak

I just returned from a trip to Jakarta, Indonesia for work where I ate and drank many delicious and interesting things but perhaps the most blog-worthy was the Kopi Luwak. According to wikipedia, kopi is the Indonesian word for coffee and luwak is the local word for the Asian Palm Civet which is a small rodent (pictured above)

The civet eats the raw coffee berries which contain the coffee beans inside, then the beans travel undigested through the animal's digestive system and the coffee beans are extracted from the civet's, well for lack of a more civilized word, poop, and they are thoroughly cleaned then roasted. Kopi Luwak is supposedly the most expensive beverage in the world - there is a limited supply annually and only a few places where is it made. The Indonesian island of Sumatra, which is home to many delicious coffees is one of them, this is the variety I tried.

Now I think this story would be better if I had to have some sort of adventure to find the coffee - you know one of those from Anthony Bourdain's show where he has to talk to several locals to get the scoop on some back alley coffee shop serving up the rodent shit coffee - but no. Actually I had to walk out of the lobby of my hotel, through an underground tunnel guarded by a guy with a machine gun (no joke, walking alone on the street was strongly discouraged so they had an underground tunnel to the hotel right across the street) and into the lobby of the very plush Ritz-Carlton Jakarta where I paid about $12 USD (or 120,000 Indonesia Rupiah) to savor the taste of a double espresso con panna made from coffee beans harvested out of rodent shit. I've heard this stuff sells for up to $50 a cup in the U.S. so I do still consider this a bargain although it's probably the most expensive cup of coffee I've ever had.

What does it taste like? Well it tastes like coffee, LOL. But it's very smooth, I read this is because the digestive process removes a lot of the natural acid from the coffee. It's strong and very full flavored but not bitter at all and just a really damn good cup of coffee. I sat there in this very decadent hotel enjoying something incredibly unique and delicious, it was quite the moment.

In addition I enjoyed several cups of coffee in Indonesia that had not ever touched rodent poop. It really was a coffee mecca with cups of very strongly brewed Sumatran coffee available just about everywhere I went. A coffee lover's fantasy.

More to come on the food from the trip soon.