The second someone mentioned a coffee plantation in Ubud, I knew I’d be going. I’d previously had a blast learning everything there was to know about making tea in India, so I would not pass up a chance to learn about my other favorite beverage.
We arrived at Bali GEO Coffee Plantation in Ubud where we were greeted by a woman who walked us up a small path while pointing out a few of the plants. This was similar to the spice tour I went on in India, which I found a little underwhelming. Soon we arrived at a cage with a few luwaks (a type of possum). At first I felt really bad for the little guys, but I was assured that they only keep them in the cage for a couple of months, and then set them free on the plantation. At this point, a gentleman took over the tour, and his knowledge off all things coffee was amazing.
All About Kopi Luwak Coffee
The luwaks are kept in a cage where they are fed coffee plants. The animals enjoy the taste of the outer shell, however they don’t like the actual bean. This means that they eat the bean whole (without chewing) and poop it out still intact. Back when the Brits had colonized Bali, the local people were not allowed to pick coffee from the trees. Despite this, they wanted to drink coffee, so they would follow the animals around, collecting the remnants they found in their poop.
Now, all of this may sound disgusting, but we saw some of the excrements and the beans are completely whole. Not only that, but they have two extra layers on them that will be removed before roasting. In addition to the removal of the shells, the beans are washed three times. Therefore, no poop remains on or near the actual beans.
Once the beans have been separated and cleaned, they sort out the male and female beans. Male beans are one piece, while the female beans break into two within the pod. The male beans are stronger and contain more caffeine. Roasting also changes the caffeine levels. A light roast is much stronger than a dark roast, which has been roasted longer. I’d always thought a dark roast had more caffeine.
After roasting, the beans are crushed. At the coffee plantation in Ubud, they do it by hand. Our guide called this our free Bali gym membership. They use a giant mortar to crush them into a powder, and then they sift it to ensure no chunks make it through. This is added directly to hot water to create the perfect cup of Kopi Luwak Coffee.
Now, Kopi Luwak Coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world. Since a person has to literally track the animals and collect their poo, it takes a lot more work. The animals can’t be caged when they poo or they may become upset and this changes the flavor of the coffee. For some reason, coffee beans taste better after having been digested by a possum in its natural environment.
Free Tasting at the Coffee Plantation in Ubud
One cup is almost $4 in Bali, which is very expensive for the area. For the same price, a family can buy over 2lbs of rice. We got to enjoy a free tasting of all of the teas, coffees, and cocoas offered at GEO Bali and we opted to buy a cup of Luwak Coffee to try. This has become a tourist favorite after it was featured in The Bucket List. We also saw the old farming equipment, which was pulled by a cow. Fifteen years ago, the plantation updated to Japanese cows also known as a Cow-asaki. Get it? Kawasaki!
Although we paid for the Luwak Coffee, we got to try 14 samplers for free. All of the teas and coffee are available for purchase after the tour, so this is a great way to see which ones you’ll want to take home. Here’s a little bit about what we tried…
The finest organic coffee home grown in Bali. To me, this is honestly way too strong, but it’s great for those who like their coffee strong and black.
A mix of Kintamnai coffee and coconut cream powder, which gives you a semi sweet coffee.
Vanilla is used to calm the nerves so this coffee is best served in the morning.
This is used to warm and refresh the body. It’s definitely got a zing to it and I’m sure would wake anyone up.
This coffee is used as an aphrodisiac and for healing many diseases.
This one was my favorite and I took home a large bag. It’s some of the best hot cocoa I’ve ever had and is also good for cardiovascular health!
Durian is known as the stinky fruit and this coffee definitely smells bad. That being said, it tasted ok. For some reason, the combination of coffee and durian helps the body produce melatonin making it perfect for insomnia. Three cups of this will counter one cup of Bali Coffee.
Helps prevent cancer and is good for dental health, skin, and hair. Oddly, this tasted a bit like warm grape juice.
Helps prevent colds and aid in digestion. Perfect for people with an upset stomach.
This tea has the most health benefits since lemon acts as an antiseptic.
Helps with nausea and cramps. It also acts as a great hangover cure since it detoxifies the liver, pancreas, and kidneys!
Herbal Tea (Turmeric)
Helps with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and helps prevent cancer.
This also tasted like warm grape juice. This is good for helping coughs as well as anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, reduce hypertension and prevent cancer.
Mix Bali Coffee and Bali Cocoa and you have something along the lines of the Mochacino.
Would you ever dare to try Kopi Luwak Coffee? Tell me in the comments!
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.