Kopi Luwak

“It’s very strong, even for me”, explained the Coffee Addict, “but it’s very smooth.” She was describing Kopi Luwak, which is a famous coffee from Indonesia. It’s special because it is so smooth to drink, without any bitterness or harsh aftertaste. You’d expect this flavour to make it very popular, but it’s more of a novelty than an everyday drink. This is true even in Indonesia where it’s produced. This is because the bitterness is removed from the coffee beans by an unusual process that makes Kopi Luwak very expensive. Would you like to meet the producer?

Asian Palm Civet courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons. Source: http://www.squidoo.com/alamidcoffee

I’d like to introduce the Asian Palm Civet, also known as Luwak. This little omnivore is the expert processor of Kopi Luwak. He’s a cute little fellow, but not everyone is happy to hear that the unique flavour of Kopi Luwak results from his digestive processes. The bitterness of the coffee is removed when he eats the coffee berries, which he excretes in little piles to mark his territory. The coffee is then collected, washed, and lightly roasted to produce the beverage.


Kopi Luwak is not widely available in Australia. I was lucky enough to be given a taste test by an Indonesian friend. His parents were visiting and they brought a present of Luwak Arabica with them. He was kind enough to share the treat for afternoon tea in our department.

The Kopi Luwak drew a crowd of people. Some were tasting the coffee and others just spectating. A few people filled their cups with the “special coffee” without knowing how it was made. Luckily most of them didn’t wrinkle their noses on hearing the story, and some were quite excited by the idea.


I filled two cups, one with Kopi Luwak and one with regular coffee supplied by our department. The aim was to compare the two. The tasting proved that Kopi Luwak really is less bitter than regular coffee. It doesn’t grab your throat with a harsh aftertaste like the departmental coffee.

So Kopi Luwak really does taste special, but isn’t the process offputting? Hearing that the Palm Civet is an omnivore is a little worrying, but seeing his gorgeous face sets your mind at ease. Besides, eating foods that have been transformed by living organisms isn’t too weird. Think of yoghurt and bread. They have special qualities endowed on them by living organisms, and acidophilus and yeast aren’t nearly as cute as a Palm Civet.

21 thoughts on “Kopi Luwak

  1. The most expensive coffee in the world…french people love it like they love escargot,even oprah once featured the coffee, lucky that you got to taste it… but you have also different qualities of them of course, and you suppose to put it on simmering water and boil it to prepare(on fire not electrical), it’ll give you even stronger aroma and taste without the hars bitterness.

  2. Ah – I’ve got a post waiting in the wings on this stuff too. I bought some similar stuff in Vietnam called (even more disturbingly) weasel coffee. I think I prefer the exotic and mysterious name of kopi luwak. We found ours to be very smooth and rich in flavour too. But couldn’t stop thinking about where the flavour was coming from.

  3. interesting! the process does sound a little offputting… wonder who’s got the lucky job of sorting through the ‘processed’ coffee beans?!

  4. Hee hee! I had heard about this coffee before and thought it was quite intriguing, the idea of drinking something pooped out of an animal! Surprising that more people aren’t grossed out by it, but maybe it helps that it is processed more after collection, with the roasting and grinding. When I visited the Philippines, we saw a python in an enclosure there and the lady (well actually the ladyboy – it was a quirky place to make an understatement) who was our guide reckoned that she used the snake poop as coffee creamer – bleurgh 😮 😮

  5. I remembering seeing this stuff on an episode of border security. Someone was trying to import the stuff into the country, with a piece of poop to just ram the point home. Well turns out that it had to be destroyed because of the potential of nasties carried into the country in the poop. What a shame hey?

  6. hehe I love this entry! the civet is adorable 🙂 I never did get to try this coffee when I lived in Indonesia as I was still too young to drink coffee when I was there…hmm gotta give it a try one of these days…

  7. Hah, I beg to differ, yeast can be quite cute, hee hee 🙂 I’m not a coffee drinker so I wouldn’t know the difference. Kudos for your daring! We have a similar product here in the Philippines 🙂

  8. The producer is very cute indeed. I have a feeling that if I look around long and hard enough I may be able to find this coffee in Thailand during my trip later this summer. You piqued my interest.

  9. Hi Arwen

    Interesting beverage. I understand that current “farming” practices for the coffee make it a bit less of a gourmet experience. Traditionally the coffee was collected in the wild, which meant the palm civet actually chose the beans that were just ripe. These days, the palm civets are given the beans as feed, and the beans could be of varying quality, rather than the prime quality wild bean which the civet chooses at its peak ripeness. Do you know if the coffee you had was wild or farmed?


  10. Lucky you! That coffee is very sort-after! Unfortunately I don’t really like coffee normally, so probably wouldn’t get the same experience as you and many others. Glad you got to try it 🙂

  11. Zita was correct. The coffee producer actually recommends double distillation process for brewing it. Lolz… It is done in this special flask with flame at the bottom http://www.surya.co.id/images/kopi-luwak_surya-habibur-rohman.jpg

    Here is the link to the producer’s website http://www.javakopiluwak.com/index_ingris.php if anyone is keen to read motr about it… The translation on the webpage is not great though…

    I am just gonna sip some kopi luwak leftover.. 🙂

  12. talking about coffee business, I regard Tutmak cafe in Ubud has the best coffee in the world hehehe… yup, favourite place to hang out and sip latte or cappuccino with frothy milk on top… nothing can beat it. kopi luwak… that rings a bell.

  13. Well with a bit of luck when my brother gets back from Bali 5th Jan 09 with a couple bags of the Kopi Luwak we can try it.
    All clean and processed, No poop,he said vie the magic telepone today,so we will keep our fingers crossed that the boys and gurls at agriculture are not having a Bad Hair day and allow the stuff through after what will obviously be a rigerious poop hunt!!
    After tasting Ill,if it makes it through,Ill take a couple pics and do a review 4 U all.

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