Being the coffee-aholic I am (I’m drinking some right now, even), I have to admit that I’m a little embarrassed I haven’t had anything to say on the topic of kopi luwak before now. “Kopi” is basically the Malay term for coffee, but it’s used in Singlish as well. If you’re at a kopitiam (coffee shop), you can also add suffixes like –C, –xiu–dai, or –O–kosong–gau to order coffee with evaporated milk, coffee with less sugar or a strong coffee without milk or sugar respectively (Take THAT fancy Starbucks names).
Anyways, kopitiams usually find their homes at Hawker centres and aren’t exactly known for brewing the best quality coffee in the world, but kopi luwak is a whole different story (I promise I’m done building this up now). It’s basically the same as any other type of coffee, except for the small fact that the coffee cherries *ahem* pass through the digestive system of a Paradoxurus (read: a little ferret-creature shits out the cherries before they’re collected). This process takes out most of the bitterness from the beans, producing a sweeter flavour, but also drives the price up to about $300 per pound (MAJOR novelty factor coming into play here).
I’m not usually picky for quality with my coffee, but my one requirement is that the coffee is, in fact, coffee (not foam, not caramel, not steam, COFFEE). This has actually cut down quite a bit on the types of beverages I order, but has saved me from being a Starbucks snob, allowing me to re-focus my hipsterness into other outlets like hanging out in public areas for the free wi-fi. Also, especially by my native Canadian standards, kopi is definitely less mainstream than Starbucks, so I would probably have to rank it higher on the hipster scale anyways.
Back to the main point of this post, one of the (many) reasons I was excited to come to Sumatra was to try out this famous (and sometimes infamous) coffee. So on a subsequent trip to the Berastagi markets – the colours were much too pretty and the bunnies were much too cute, I couldn’t stay away – when I got separated from my girls, instead of looking around the corner for them like a normal person, I decided to go off and take a coffee break (they had already had kopi luwak, and weren’t really looking to try it again).
Jittering with excitement (something usually reserved for AFTER I drink my coffee), I ordered my beverage and started happily snapping photos since I was too excited to actually start consuming the drink.
Eventually, I settled down and finally took a sip. The drink was definitely sweeter than a regular brew, but that might have had something to do with the fact that the barista had put quite a bit of milk and sugar in the brew. Either way, it was certainly significantly less bitter and quite palatable. Not something I would drink on a regular basis, but definitely worth trying out.
After my taste buds finished their little adventure, I reunited with the girls and went back to crooning over bunnies.