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From dung to delicacy: The making of Bali's prized Luwak coffee

From dung to delicacy: The making of Bali's prized Luwak coffee
Processed in the gut of a local cat-like critter, this unique, luxurious coffee bean offers a smoother sip to the bold javaphile

By Merve Aydogan

BALI, Indonesia (AA) - Indonesia's famed island of Bali offers the world's finest and most expensive coffee, known as "Kopi Luwak" or Luwak coffee, made from beans retrieved from an unlikely source: the droppings of a small local mammal, the Asian palm civet.

Ni Ketut Budiani, who works at a local Luwak coffee plantation, told Anadolu Agency all about the process of making this unusual coffee.

It usually takes a week to get the beans ready, depending on the weather, Budiani said. "If it doesn't rain, the Luwak coffee process takes one week."

The end result is much better when the beans are bathed in shining sunlight and clear skies. But if rain clouds roll in, they can be dried indoors, though this affects the taste of the final beverage.

Part of what makes this "special coffee" unique is how the beans are collected from the wild – in the droppings of the unusual, cat-like civet, which eats the coffee cherries hanging from tree branches during the night and poops them out, relieving itself of the pits by the morning.

"At nighttime, they go to the coffee trees, select the cherries, and swallow and process it in the stomach. When they eat, they eat the fruit of the coffee, not the seed inside. They eat the reddish, light brown fruit and the strong skin (seed) comes out in its poop," she said.

Once out of the animal's digestive system, the coffee seeds are washed in hot water and boiled for a time.

The boiled seeds are left out to dry – under the sun, preferably. Once dried, the strong skin of the seed is removed and the beans are removed from inside.

"We then clean (the bean) with hot water again and finish up by drying and roasting it," Budiani added.

The digestive enzymes of the animal are believed to reduce the coffee beans' acidity, resulting in a smoother cup of coffee with a unique taste and aroma.

"The Luwak coffee has a strong smell when you drink it. But it's okay to drink without sugar," she said, adding that, in comparison, the also strong Balinese Robusta coffee tastes better with sugar.

- Coffee and tea heaven

Thousands of the tourists who visit Bali every year flock to the coffee shops and cafes to taste the one-of-a-kind java, which costs about 50,000 Indonesian rupiahs ($3.17) per cup.

Customers can also request how their Luwak coffee is roasted, after which it is ground using a large mortar.

Grinding takes about an hour for at least 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of coffee beans, Budiani said, with the ground coffee then sifted before packaging. To ensure cleanliness and hygiene, machines can also be used to process the exotic coffee, according to Budiani.

"A lot of people, when they come here, really like it. We have a lot of customers come here ... and try it," she said.

Coffee shops also offer visitors a wide range of exotic and local teas, as well as coffee options.

Tea from the skin of the native tropical fruit mangosteen, rosella tea, and tea made from both regular and red ginger are other options that tourists can sample.

Soothing mangosteen tea can help relieve stress and inflammation, Budiana said, while it also serves as a strong antioxidant.

"Very popular here. When people come to visit, they ask for it," she said

source: News Feed
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