Food and Nutrition
Coffee from Mongoose Cat Poop!
During my travels around Bali, last January I stopped at a coffee tasting store along the road. I was curious about the Kopi luwak coffee I kept hearing about on the island. Kopi luwak refers to the seeds of the coffee berries once they have been eaten and digested by a cat – in this case, the Mongoose cat. The first I heard of this was while watching the movie “Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The idea of drinking coffee from beans found in cat feces disgusted me. But somehow, my newfound curiosity to “try new things” led me into the world of cat poop coffee. What IS Kopi Luwak? Kopi luwak is actually a form of processing rather than a type of coffee. It refers to the collection of the Asian Palm Civet or Mongoose Cat feces, extraction of the beans after the berries have been digested and then cleaning and roasting. These nocturnal cats climb up towards tree tops and eat the best berries with the fleshiest pulp. During the digestion process, their protease enzymes seep into the beans, which are housed within the berries, creating shorter peptides and more free amino acids (according to Wikipedia). So how did it taste? Actually, not bad! Not as strong as their Arabica bean coffee and definitely smoother! The cutest, young Balinese girl who gave me my private tour made me try Kopi luwak (straight up, black no sugar!) before tasting any of the other several coffees. I guess she wanted me to try with it an untainted palate! Prior to that I even tasted a roasted (and cleaned!) bean extracted from Mongoose Cat feces collected that day. (ooooh, I know, daring!) The Shady (Other) World of Kopi Luwak: There’s been speculation about the mistreatment of civets, in attempt to leverage of production of Kopi Luwak coffee (small cages, isolation, poor diet, high mortality rate). Civets are not able to select premium berries when caged and there is little enforcement of the genuine use of the name “kopi luwak”. Investigations by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) uncovered fraudulent labeling of coffee from caged animals as “wild sourced”. Kopi luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. So if you find it online at around $3 per kg, you are probably not getting the real thing. Buyer beware! I purchased a small 50g bag of kopi luwak beans for about $17 US. So who knows? I could’ve fallen into a tourist trap. No time for my own investigation so whether it was wild sourced or caged sourced, I tried some type of Indonesian coffee. I’m a cautious person especially when traveling however, I try not to beat myself up by obsessing about the “what if’s “ and the “I’m probably being scammed” mentality. It was simply a good learning experience! Watch my video of my charming tour guide explaining the process while holding a big tray of Mongoose cat feces out in front of me….