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Foreign Grocery Friday: The Kopi Luwak of Indonesia

Where: Bali, Indonesia
April 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM | by | ()

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

Kopi Luwak. It's often named the rarest, most expensive, most for-connoisieurs-only coffee and it owes all these superlatives to how it's produced: an Indonesian civet (like a possum) eats a certain type of coffee berry. Its digestive system digests the meat of the berry, adds enzymes to the bean inside, and then poops out the bean. These beans are then collected, cleaned and sterilized, roasted and ground into coffee powder.

At coffee shops around the world, occasional bags of the rare stuff find their way into stock, going for $40-$60 per cup. In Bali, Indonesia however, the "cat poo coffee" is far easier to come by since this is where it's produced.

The taste: We know what you're thinking and no, it did not taste like poop It tasted like...really thick coffee, almost a Turkish coffee really, strong with little acidity. It wasn't bad but it's not worth making it your morning wake-up cup. Special occasions only.

The price: Order it at a hotel in Bali, and you'll pay about $13 per cup. Go to a grocery store and buy a package of the beans or powder enough to make 10 cups, and pay $12-$15. Buy a single packet of the powdered stuff at the grocery store, and you could get it for just $1.50.

Where to find it: If you're on Bali, you'll see it damn near everywhere tourists go. Kopi luwak is packaged in ornate wood boxes or just in packets and sold at souvenir stands, in the Ubud Art Market and at regular grocery stores in Seminyak, which is where we found ours. Of course we also drank it at the W Retreat & Spa, and you can read about that experience here.

Caution: Our fellow Bali traveler and Jaunted contributor Rayme Gorniak bought a box of the coffee or two to bring back to Australia. Customs snatched it from him, though he did declare it. He said they specifically asked if he had any, and they confiscated it on the grounds that it may contain something or other they don't want in Australia. Hmmm. We've so far had no problems.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]

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