Kopi Luwak Coffee Plantation – Ubud Bali
Transportation: renting a Motorbike is by far easiest
Costs: free admission, motorbike: 50,000 IDR
Suggested Time: visit in the morning, spend about 2 hours
You’ve probably heard of Kopi Luwak Coffee as being the most expensive coffee in the world, in a regular coffee shop you could pay up to $30 for a single cup!!!! Indonesia is famous for making it so while in Bali why not go and visit one of the Kopi Luwak Plantations; where the most expensive coffee is produced? Fun fact: wild Kopi Luwak coffee isn’t produced in Bali, only in Sumatra, so you’ll have to settle for farmed Kopi Luwak rather than wild.
Before I visited any Kopi Luwak coffee plantations I did a lot of research into which one’s were the most ethical… why do this you might ask? Well the Civet is a Weasal/Cat type creature who is naturally a meat eater; however the coffee plantations train them to only eat vegetables and coffee beans which isn’t the richest diet, the Civet then excretes the coffee bean and this is what makes Kopi Luwak coffee… yep you read that right it’s basically half digested coffee beans in Weasal poop! So you have to be careful which plantations to visit as some are not as ethical as the others, however in my opinion none of them are particularly ethical… but we’ll come on to that later.
After extensive research the best one I could seem to find was Teba Sari, about a 15 minute drive outside of Ubud. The eco tour around the plantation is completely free and is really interesting to see the various plants they grow, from Cacao, coffee plants to turmeric and pineapple you can see all manner of plant. I’d use the term ‘plantation’ a little bit loosely as it takes about 15 minutes to tour the entire ‘plantation’. Towards the end you see the Civets, an Indonesian Cat crossed with a Weasel like creature which is really cute but can also be incredibly vicious!
Now this is the part where I don’t think any of these places are that ethical, the Civets live in cages all throughout the day and the cages are about 6ft X 6ft at a generous guestimate. The only place, in Indonesia, where Civet’s naturally select the coffee beans and live in the wild is on Sumatra. At night they are released to eat the coffee beans and then in the morning their excrement is collected and they are put back in the cages.
Once you’ve seen the Civets you are talked through the entire process, of how they grow the bean, collect it, boil it once, de-shell it, boil it again, roast it and then ground it into coffee powder using a traditional method which is rather like a huge pestle and mortar. Next comes the best part the tasting… now all of this is FREE but if you want to try the Kopi Luwak coffee you have to pay 50,000 IDR, which given what you pay in the western world is incredibly cheap! Personally i’m not that fussed about drinking coffee, especially when it has been excreted through an animal, so I stuck to the selection of 15 teas and coffees that they present to you for FREE, along with samples of the homegrown chocolate.
Our tour guide Putu sat with us while we tasted everything and we spoke to him at length about Balinese culture, the processes involved in the creation of Kopi Luwak coffee and he told us all about his life, which was incredibly interesting. He also managed to convince us that the animals were well cared for and as they are more nocturnal, at night time when they are most active they are free to roam, so much so that two were missing from the night before and they were waiting for them to return!
Once you’ve tasted the teas and coffees (the best were the lemongrass tea, rosella tea, vanilla coffee and ginger coffee!) you’re invited to buy something from the giftshop. Obviously you don’t have to and at no point did I feel pressured to buy anything… so I didn’t! Meaning the entire tour was completely FREE.. that’s right… FREE… so if you are looking for a free activity this is a pretty darn good one! So much so that when we were craving a cup of coffee during a long drive up to Mount Batur we stopped off at another plantation just to get a free cup of coffee!!
These plantations are all over the place but I’d definitely recommend Teba Sari as firstly it was genuine Kopi Luwak coffee, which a lot only pretend to be and it was an informative and interesting tour while the teas, coffees and chocolate were all delicious!