Friday, June 24, 2016

[Bali, Indonesia 2014] Luwak Coffee Plantation

Photo By: Elin Chow

Driving down the road from the rice terraces of Tegalalang, we stopped at Luwak Coffee Plantation where we have the opportunity to sample a great variety of local teas and coffees, including the highly prized Luwak coffee (also known as Kopi Luwak).

We met up with a local guide who walked through a lush tropical garden where we were shown the various types of herbs and plants that are used to make the various types of coffees and teas. The guide was very friendly and patient, explaining to us the Luwak coffee making process.

Luwak coffee is one of the most expensive coffee in the world with retail prices reaching US$700 per kilogram. Luwak (or Asian Palm Civet) is a small nocturnal mongoose like animal native to Southeast Asia. Part of their diet consists of coffee cherries which they unable to digest and are passed out in their droppings. Luwak coffee is made from the undigested coffee bean excreted by Luwaks. The droppings are collected, cleaned, roasted and brewed for coffee.

Luwak coffee is known for its nice, smooth and less acidic taste. Its rarity and unusual process made it the most expensive coffee in the world. However, little did people know that behind the most expensive coffee in the world lies horrific animal cruelty. 

Near the entrance of the plantation, there were several small cages where a few Luwaks were kept. The Luwaks certainly does not look happy at all. 

Luwak coffee has become hugely popular worldwide, which lead to a spike of animal cruelty as the demand of coffee beans increase. As a result, many of the plantations in Bali are keeping the Luwaks in cages to ensure a high and reliable supply of Luwak coffee beans, which in turn, threaten the wild population of the animal.

A normal diet of a Luwak would consists of fruits and some other small animals like birds, reptiles and insects. Apparently, coffee cherries only made up a small percentage of its diet. However, captive luwak are fed a diet solely of coffee cherries, which caused health problems due to unbalanced diet and limited space. 

Luwaks are nocturnal animals that sleep during the day and wake up at night. However, captive Luwaks are mostly kept in cages under the broad daylight, causing them unable to rest during the day. As a result, captive Luwaks are often often malnourished, suffering from fur loss, blood in their faeces, stress of being caged and shorter lifespan.

We were led to a small sampling area where we were offered free samples of 8 different coffees and teas. If I did not remember wrongly, there was Lemon Tea, Ginger Tea, Ginger Coffee, Ginseng Coffee, Bali Coffee, Chocolate Coffee, Vanilla Coffee and Coconut Coffee. 

I actually find the coffees a little too sweet for my liking. But I do like the Ginger Tea very much. Of course, Luwak coffee is not included in this sampling. A sample of Luwak coffee costs 50,000 IDR (about MYR 15), which was a little bit too expensive for a small cup of coffee. 

The sitting area offers a nice view of the surrounding lush greenery and rice terraces. Visitors can enjoy sample of many varieties of coffees while taking in the beautiful scenery.  A perfect place to relax and unwind.
There was a little shop next to the sampling area for visitors to buy the coffees and teas. But do not worry as the guide will not pressure you to buy anything. Out of curiosity, we bought a bottle of Luwak coffee home to try. At that time, we were not aware that our innocent purchase actually supported such animal cruelty. We definitely will never buy this coffee if we have known about the ugly truth behind Luwak coffee then.

Although there are many companies in the market that have stated that their Luwak coffee is 100% genuine and wild, it is almost impossible to tell whether the coffee that you are buying comes from captive or wild Luwaks. I would not encourage anyone to even consider buying this coffee. We should not supporting such an unethical industry. Continuous demand will only encourage people to capture and abuse more Luwaks. Apparently, Luwak coffee is a highly lucrative business and everyone will want a hand of it. 

I will urge everyone to stop buying these extremely rare and so called ''luxury'' coffee. If luwak coffee are really rare, I believe the government will limit the amount of coffee each person can buy. But you can still visit a Luwak Coffee Plantation in Bali. Most of them offer a good selection of other coffees and teas that are worth trying!

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 6D5N Bali Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 6 days in Bali. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 6 days adventures in Bali! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

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