In search of Kopi Luwak

We imported some Kopi Luwak coffee (most expensive in the world) to Urban Coffee Co last year and charged around £9 per cup, it went surprisingly quickly. Not long after that there was some negative press around the coffee with claims that Indonesia was creating Luwak farms and force feeding the caged animals to produce the coffee.

Some still believe the whole thing to be an urban myth but what we can tell you is the Luwak or civit cat exists and it lives in and around the coffee plantations in Indonesia. It does eat coffee berries so it is likely that the coffee is real.

The other issue surrounding Kopi Luwak is that it is very rare (hence the price) but yet the supply is significantly larger than the actual annual production. Which can only mean most of the Kopi Luwak you purchase is fake and what’s more its very difficult to tell the difference.

So today I went in search of genuine Kopi Luwak. I am in Bali, Indonesia and I headed from the tourist filled south to the north of the Island, towards the mountains. Once you clear the towns you start to head up towards the volcanic mountains, first passing through miles of Paddy fields and then through rows of mandarin orange trees. The road really started to climb as we headed towards Kintamani and the coffee growing area.

We stopped at a small plantation that claims to have Kopi Luwak and sure enough they have a few Luwak’s in a cage (this picture was taken with my phone) to prove the point. I questioned the owner about the Kopi Luwak and he tells me the Luwak come out during the evenings in the rainy season and they are able to collect about 1kg a month and 5kg over the year. He has 3kg of green beans for sale on a shelf which would appear to be a lot if he only has 5kg per year and its that rare!

Whilst I am sure it exists, finding genuine Kopi Luwak is difficult. I would suggest you need to know a farmer very well to get anywhere near the real stuff. I am certainly not convinced we have found any genuine Kopi Luwak and we have visited the plantations so if you are buying in the UK you are likely to have no chance.

For all those coffee connoisseurs out there you should try it (fake or real) to say you have tried it – it does have an interesting chocolatey taste. Do note though that Kopi Luwak scores very low on the SCAA cupping scale, so there are far better quality coffees out there.

Simon – filter coffee, black no sugar

Urban Emporiums | 30 Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NP