Maybe you’ve heard of the world-famous Kopi Luwak from Bali. Selling at $100-$600 USD per pound, you might wonder, “What could be so damn special about it?” First, you have to meet the civet. The civet is a small, furry, nocturnal mammal that roams Southeast Asia. I had the chance to hang out with a few while visiting the Luwak plantations in Bali, and I must say, they are quite feisty animals. Supposedly, they are nocturnal, but they were showing out while we were visiting.
What does this little guy have to do with some of the best coffee in the world?
The civet eats the coffee cherry, digests it (fermenting and adding flavor), and for lack of a better word, shits it out. The beans are cleaned (thank God) and ground up into an amazing cup of strong coffee.
In addition to the civet cat, the plantations are home to small dogs and chickens.
I’ve mentioned my passion for ecotourism/agrotourism, and had the absolute pleasure of exploring a few of these plantations where the civets live. Another reason agrotourism is so important is that you have to opportunity to see how the animals are treated. I did notice that the largest civets were in cages together, with enough room to walk in circles. Not only were there animals, fruit and herbs grew wild. One of my favorite things was the baby pineapples! This was the beginning of my blogging days, and I completely forgot to use my hand for scale… Just trust me. It’s itty bitty.
Everyone we met at the farms were very knowledgeable and took us through the whole process of how the coffee is made.
Some of the places let us grind up the coffee beans and all let us roam around the lush plantation. Then, the tour guides offer you free (yes really!) tea/coffee of all different kinds like ginseng and lemongrass. While you do not have to pay for the tour, you do have to pay to try the luwak coffee. I generally prefer these types of establishments because it implies that we truly are peeking into the production of a farm, and not adding to tourist exploitation. My partner-in-crime and I went to at least two during our short trip to Bali.
I highly recommend stopping by one called Bali Pulina, located in the Denpasar area.
Our boy Derrick (the driver we spent a few days rocking out to AC/DC with) knew all the spots, and I was especially delighted that this sweet lady let me snap some pics of her lighting the daily offering of rice, incense, flowers, and other precious goodies. My recommendation is to always ask while taking pictures of any religious ceremony. I noticed during the water ceremony, adults were fine with photos but children said no almost every single time.
My favorite part about agrotourism is being able to not only support a local trade, but getting to know how it is done and by whom.
We had a great time chatting with the girls (and a few guys) that worked at the plantations. Most of the girls were our age (university age) and a few were in high school. All thought the civets were a little crazy! My partner-in-crime and I both purchased some Kopi Luwak to try, and I would most likely compare it to the coffee with chicory from New Orleans. Delicious!