Indonesia is the 3rd largest producer of coffee in the world. The three islands most involved in Southeast Asia’s coffee culture are Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra. Even if you’re only an occasional coffee drinker, you’ve probably heard the names of Indonesia’s islands thrown around at one time or another.
Java is a tropical, densely populated island where much of the Arabica coffee in the world is grown. Javinese coffee beans are stored for 2-3 years to increase the smokey, full bodied flavor of the final product. Coffee grown on the island of Sulawesi is grown in a humid, mountainous climate. The most famous coffee growing region is Teraja- where the beans are picked and processed by hand. Because of the hazardous terrain and meticulous care of the plants, this region has a very low yield and it’s product is sought after by coffee enthusiasts around the globe. The island of Sumatra produces some of the most famous coffee in the world. People love Sumatra because of it’s bold, almost syrupy taste and complexity. You can find Sumatran coffee at almost any grocery store and coffee shop in the united states.
What stands out as the most fascinating feature of Indonesia’s coffee culture is the very memorable and to many unappetizing works at the Kopi Luwak roastery on the island of Bali. This process involves the participation of a third party, the Asian Palm Civet. This civet, nicknamed the ‘toddy cat,’ is a small mammal native to Bali that consumes the coffee cherries, thus beginning the process of creating this very special cup of coffee. Producers of these coffee beans argue that this may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. The selection occurs when the picky civets choose only the best, most worthy beans to eat. Once eaten, the beans absorb enzymes from the civets, where their digestive mechanisms may improve the flavor profile of the coffee beans. There is much controversy whether this makes the coffee worth the $40-50 per cup price tag, but the only true way to know is to try it for yourself!
When ordering this in Bali, they often refer to it as ‘animal coffee,’ or ‘cat coffee.’ On our retreat to Bali we make a special trip to tour and taste Kopi Luwak coffee and experience cultural bliss! Join us October 3-10 2015!