Credit: Michael Motamedi

How a Bali Farm Makes Some of the World’s Most Expensive Coffee With the Help of Palm Civet Poop

Bali Food + Drink
by Nickolaus Hines Apr 11, 2024

In the 2007 movie The Bucket List, Jack Nicholson’s too-rich-for-his-own-good character has an obsession with kopi luwak, the rarest coffee in the world. Morgan Freeman’s character, his down-to-earth travel companion who joins him in an effort to complete a bucket list before he succumbs to terminal cancer, avoids the coffee because he knows its true origin. Only toward the end of the movie is the full reason for his aversion revealed: kopi luwak coffee cherries must first be eaten and pooped out by the Asian palm civet (called a luwak in Indonesia).

In the latest episode of Matador Network’s podcast No Fixed Address: The World’s Most Extraordinary People, host Michael Motamedi gets to the heart of kopi luwak in Bali. The episode centers on Ayu Sudana, who runs the kopi luwak focused coffee company Bali Beans in the northeastern Kintamani region of the island.

In the podcast, Sudana explains just how the family-owned company turns these excreted beans (or “processed by animals,” as Sudana puts it) into a cherished coffee.

The secret is collecting the coffee cherries fresh, just after the civets ferment the ripe cherries in their stomach and poop them out. The animals are picky and eat only the most choice beans. The scarcity pushes the price up enough to make kopi luwak the most expensive cup of Joe in the world.

Credit: Bali Beans

“During my childhood, I collected at least like 10 to 15 kilos of fresh poop every day,” Sudana explains in the episode as she takes Motamedi through the patchwork of coffee trees the company owns. The plantation processes on-site, and also serves as a cafe, barista training center, and Sudana’s family home.

Credit: Bali Beans

Travelers can visit Bali Beans and have a similar experience as Motamedi — walking the fields, trying the coffee, looking for poop. They can also learn more about Sudana’s inspiring story of coming back to where she was born and raised to run the family business despite her parents encouraging her to be something other than a farmer.

To hear the full story, listen to No Fixed Address on your favorite podcast platforms. .

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