Indonesian Chronicles - Day 3, 15/8/2018 - Impressions, Facts & Stories
When you travel, there are always a couple of things you forget. Only to discover that in most instances you can buy them easily and cheaper in the country you are visiting. There are of course a few exceptions. T forgot his sandals. We find a local department store. A little like a market over 3 floors, with open walls, with a shiny escalator in the middle. Shoes are on level 2. We find a pair T likes, which is a small victory in itself. We rummage through piles of boxes. A petite woman of an indefinite age appears from behind the piles of shoes, happy to help. She looks at T’s feet and confidently pulls a box right at the bottom of the pile. ‘Big’ she explains. This is size 43. T’s size is 47. T will have to wear his trainees. Or go bare-feet. The shop keeper cannot help laughing as we leave.
When you travel, there are also a few things you can only buy in the country you visit. On Day 3, we discover the Mataram Luwak Coffee, presented as the ‘rarest and the most expensive coffee beans in the world, fermented inside the body of Asian civets cats’. This is a marketing blurb for coffee beans been collected from the poop of those cats. As we visit the coffee factory, a little poster explains that as they only eat fruits and coffee cherries, their poops does not smell. We are reassured. Some young women, eyes glued to their smartphones, remove husks by hand. A woman with large glasses is napping, head in a bucket of coffee beans. The coffee, smooth and dark, tasted quite good, with little bitterness. It claims to have antioxidant properties and low caffeine. We did buy a little box for the equivalent of £20, resisting the temptation to buy two boxes for £30, with our guide encouragement explaining that this coffee cures cancer. Back to our hotel, I discovered that it is on offer at the Ritz Carlton in Paris at £70 a cup.
Kopi luwak (Indonesian pronunciation: [ˈkopi ˈlu.aʔ]), or civet coffee, is coffee that includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). Fermentation occurs as the cherries pass through a civet's intestines, and after being defecated with other fecal matter, they are collected.
Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection – civets choosing to eat only certain cherries – and digestion – biological or chemical mechanisms in the animal's digestive tract altering the composition of the coffee cherries.
The traditional method of collecting feces from wild civets has given way to intensive farming methods in which civets in battery cage systems are force-fed the cherries. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets due to "horrific conditions" including isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate.
Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called one of the most expensive coffees in the world, with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogram.