Bali // Luwak coffee tasting

Indonesia is known for its coffee - perhaps the islands of Sumatra and Java sound familiar? in particular, they are known for Luwak coffee. this coffee is special and often expensive because it is so rare. not because of the type of bean, but because of the way it is processed.

during our day of touring the island we stopped to do a coffee and tea tasting to break up the drive. we had a wonderful guide who walked us through a lush little patch of jungle and showed us various plants and the coffee making process. we got to smell all the spices that are grown there – cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, ginger, turmeric, etc etc. and we got to meet a mongoose who helps make Luwak coffee. [though he was too busy napping to pose for a good picture.]

you see, the mongooses in Bali eat coffee beans off the plant. and Luwak coffee is made from beans that have been collected from mongoose poop. that's right, poop. 

before you start gagging, let me explain the rest of the process. the beans are collected, washed, removed from their shells, washed again, dried for 30 days, washed again, roasted and then made into coffee. the digestive process of the mongoose ages the beans in a way that removes some of the caffeine and adds a distinctive earthy flavor.

there has apparently been a lot of controversy surrounding this process and the treatment of the mongooses. the place we visited collects their poop from the wild, and the above mongoose is the only one caged. obviously this takes a lot more work to collect the beans and drives up the price. BUT it's a lot more humane for the mongooses.

Luwak coffee is prepared similar to Turkish coffee. it is mixed with hot water and you must wait for the sediment to settle before drinking. the flavor was surprisingly mild… I definitely still prefer regular coffee. [I need the caffeine.] 

we decided to be brave and try the Luwak coffee. I mean, when else would I have a chance to drink something that's been fermented in the digestive tract of a mongoose? we also tasted regular arabica bean coffee, flavored coffees [ginger, coconut, mocha, vanilla, and ginseng] sampled unsweetened cocoa made straight from the cacao plant, and teas from spices and roots such as lemongrass, turmeric, and ginger.

the four of us decided our favorite drinks were the coconut coffee and the ginger tea [and bought some to bring home, of course.] though I will probably never go out of my way to try Luwak coffee again, it was a fun experience and we learned a lot about the different plants that grow on Bali. if you aren't adventurous enough to try the "poop coffee," I would suggest visiting one of the many other coffee houses for a tasting of a more traditional variety.

the cup of coffee that [ever so appropriately] fueled the writing of today’s post was sponsored by Kayla. she drinks her coffee with cream + a touch of honey and blogs about health, fitness, and her love of running over at FitLifeForward.

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