Should You Try The World’s Most Expensive Coffee When Visiting Southeast Asia?

I’ve tasted different types of coffee over the years. But one of the things that I have mixed feelings with is when I tried drinking a civet coffee when I traveled in Indonesia and the Philippines. I ordered a cup when I was in Bali. And when I was in the Philippines, I ordered it from Costa Coffee in one of their malls.

Civet coffee was popularized after it was featured in the 2007 movie, The Bucket List. That’s when I decided to try it even once in my life. This was said to be the most expensive coffee in the world. I remember in the Philippines that Kopi Luwak is around twice the average price of Café Americano.

What Makes Civet Coffee Weird

Some things made this weird. First, unlike the typical beans, it was digested by a Civet and then collected after it was pooped. The Civet is a cat-like animal that resembled more of a raccoon. The enzymes from these animals change the proteins that are found in the beans and turn the beans into a less acid version of itself.

Next, I’ve seen how the Civet coffee was made in Bali. If you’re a vegan, this isn’t your cup of coffee. Many coffee plantations put the civets in tiny cages for tourists to see and for them to produce the most expensive coffee in the world.  

Quality is Changing

The quality of Kopi Luwak is changing. For those who tasted the civet coffee years before it became popular, they’ve commented that it is no longer how it was. Part of what makes the Civet Coffee blends popular across Asia’s cafes is the fact that the animals were eating different types of cherries in the wild, which is responsible for their gut flora. But as the civets are stuffed in cages, and getting fed with old cherries, not only does it stress the animal, it also affected the coffee’s taste.

Not Exactly a Good Coffee?

I decided to talk to some friends who were self-confessed coffee connoisseurs to ask their opinion regarding the most expensive coffee in the world. They’ve mentioned to me that Kopi Luwak is an overrated product and those cafes in South East Asia that sell them know it.

Since the digestive enzymes are responsible for removing the acidity in the beans, it also affects the other acids responsible for the flavor of the coffee. And because of this, the taste is not exactly as good as the other blends that you get from your typical coffee shop like Starbucks.

The sustainability of the Kopi Luwak is in question by many vegans and environmentalists. However, there are countless coffee shops in Bali and parts of the Philippines that have capitalized on the popularity of this product. With no way of identifying wild vs caged civet coffee, it is a good idea to simply stay away from this product.

Civets play a vital role in the ecosystem. And in the next years, it is even possible that we are going to see civets get depleted in number because of the coffee industry’s practice.

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