Civet droppings add flavour to Indonesian coffee - Tourism Indonesia


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Civet droppings add flavour to Indonesian coffee

For Nusamba Wurintara, the most prized arabica coffee beans on his plantation are not those growing on bushes but the ones he finds among the undergrowth, wedged in the excrement of wild palm civets.

These beans produce kopi luwak, a chocolate flavoured coffee that is one of the world's most prized and expensive brews.

Each morning as he does his rounds of the plantation, Wurintara keeps his eyes open for civet excrement, marking each dropping with a stick so it can be collected and turned into kopi luwak.

"Civets are natural coffee pulping machines," said Wurintara.

Intrigued by kopi luwak's mythical status, chemist M.F. Marcone travelled to Sumatra in 2004 to collect the beans for analysis.

"As the beans enter the civet's digestive system, an enzyme which breaks proteins into smaller parts interacts with the beans," said Marcone, an assistant professor at the department of food science at Canada's University of Guelph.

"The smaller protein will then react with the beans' carbohydrate or sugar during roasting, giving kopi luwak its famous, chocolaty, earthy and musty flavour," Marcone explained.

Kopi Luwak stands out in the world's fourth-largest coffee producer, where connoisseurs can enjoy a wide range of flavours.

But some coffee experts question whether civet coffee deserves its reputation as one of the world's greatest coffees.

"Kopi Luwak has unpredictable and inconsistent taste after roasting, mainly because of civets' wide array of diet which includes small rodents, eggs and fruits," said Alun Evans, who owns a coffee roaster in West Java.


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