Travelogue: Civet Coffee, Savouring the World’s Most Expensive Java

Balinese Adventure Part 22

Michael Taylor’s Balinese Adventure has ended in real time, but it continues in Cyberspace. Today he contemplates trying a cup of civet coffee, reputedly the world’s most expensive – and some would say disgusting – brew.

Civet Coffee, a.k.a. luwak coffee,  is reputedly the world’s best – and most expensive – coffee. Some would go so far as to say thatit is also the world’s most disgusting coffee!

Not because of the coffee’s taste, but because of how the beans are ‘processed’.

Civets, you see, are small cat-like animals that live mostly in the tropical rain forests of Africa and Asia. Some species, such as the palm civets of Bali, feed on coffee berries, expelling the beans in their feces.

These beans are thought to be superior to other types of coffee beans for two reasons.

First, it is thought that the civets choose the tastiest beans, so they have been ‘pre-selected’ so to speak for their quality.

Secondly, the effect of the civets’ digestive juices on the beans renders them smoother and less acidic.

I first heard about civet coffee on a television documentary a few years ago. Ever since I’ve been dying to find out what it tastes like.

For some strange reason, I wasn’t put off by the coffee’s unusal ‘production’ method. I just assumed it would undergo some type of sterilisation process.

Agro Tourism

As I was being transported from one hotel to another during my recent 30 day sojourn in Bali, my driver said we would be passing a civet farm where civet coffee was produced.

When he asked if I would like to tour the farm, I jumped at the chance.

First we toured a workshop, where Balinese religious paraphernalia was being made. Next we inspected an enclosure, where the civets were kept.

I was then taken on a tour of the farm’s gardens. Herbs and spices as well as several  types of coffee bean were grown there.

Finally I was taken to a makeshift coffee house, where I was allowed to sample 5 types of the farm’s flavoured coffee on the house.

If I wanted to sample the farm’s civet coffee, however, I would have to pay for it. A cup of civet coffee sold for roughly US$5.

That’s about what I’d be charged for a large cup of coffee at Starbuck’s in Hong Kong. Sounded like a good deal to me, so I agreed to purchase a cup

I offered to buy my driver a cup, as well, but he declined my offer, drinking the free samples instead. Did he know something I didn’t know? Maybe he was just being polite.

My Verdict

The civet coffee was good. But was it the best coffee I’ve ever tasted? Not really. In fact, I liked the some of the free samples better!

My curiosity satisfied, we continued on our way. But I passed up the opportunity to purchase a package of civet coffee to take home as a souvenir of my visit.

One cup of the world’s best coffee was enough.


Bluana Sari Agro Tourism, Jalan Raya Bresela, Taro, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali. Telephone: 628 579 2000049.


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