06 December 2010

Kopi Luwak from Thailand in Canada...

It would seem that Indonesians will have another close South East Asian neighbour to take aim at considering this story that has made its way into the Calgary Sun Newspaper. Indonesians are pretty familiar with Malaysian attempts to steal all things Indonesian. Most recently Malaysia has been guilty of thieving the odd song or two and a concerted effort to steal the traditional batik textiles of the islands of Indonesia. However, Indonesia has not had any run-ins with Thailand over the theft of Indonesian cultural heritage or products.

Should Indonesia and Indonesians be angry?

The Calgary Sun newspaper in Canada is reporting that the Bean Stop in Eau Claire Market is about to start serving Kopi Luwak. As most connoisseurs of coffee will know, a good cup of Kopi Luwak requires good beans and the best quality beans come from Indonesia and not Thailand. Kopi Luwak requires the palm civet to munch down the coffee beans. These beans then pass through the civet's digestive system and are partially digested. Bean collectors are then employed to pluck the coffee beans out of the civet feces. The beans are then processed.

Kopi Luwak are Indonesian words. However, the beans being sourced for the Kopi Luwak that is to be served at the Eau Claire come from the Doi Chaang area of northern Thailand. Hmmm, can one really even have legitimate kopi luwak if it is not produced in Indonesia?

In any event, the coffee is not going to be cheap, even if it is not the real thing. A cup of the Thai version of Kopi Luwak will set drinkers back a whopping CND 25 a cup and CND 60 for a 50 gram tin. The owner of the Eau Claire apparently has secured about 10kgs of kopi luwak.

Let's face it, Kopi Luwak is popular. After all, it even made it on to the Oprah Winfrey Show!


Mr. M said...

Well, to be fair, the name 'Luwak' came from the animal that 'select' (read: digesting and yes, s-word-ing) the coffee beans.
If it is the same animal, then surely it's no crime to call it that.

It's like using the word 'kucing' instead of 'cat'.

I think we're cool with that.

We'll have a problem if it was in fact a different animal.
That would be -- for the lack of a better word -- different sh*t all together.
Then they can't call it Luwak. It will be offensive to the hardworking Luwaks...
("Hey, you think it is easy to pass those beans through your... ???")

Anyway. You get the point... :))

lawbugger said...

Its all a bloody shitty scam. try to buy Coffeeluwak here in Indonesia and you can buy it for prices from 80 000 rupes to over one juta for 250g. its all tastes pretty ordinary to me. It doesnt sell in Aceh I know that.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Mr. M...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Comments are always appreciated.

Nope, not really. I do not get the point :)

The animal that eats, partially digests and then passes the coffee beans is the palm civet.

So, I guess it matters as to whether the Thais call the palm civet a luwak or not. It is also important to determine whether the Thai word for coffee is kopi. If neither of these things is true, then it is not kopi luwak but something else. Namely, whatever the Thai words are for it.

For example, in the Philippines it is called kape alamid (Tagalog) or Kafe Laku in Timor Leste.

My understanding is that the Thai pronunciation for coffee sounds a little like "kaa fae" which by my reckoning means that it does not sound anything like kopi.

The Thai word for the palm civet is หนูขนาดใหญ่ชนิดหนึ่ง, but I am not sure whether this is pronounced luwak or not. I am guessing that it is probably not.

So, there are probably pretty good arguments to be made that it might be the same general product, namely: coffee created from the partially digested beans that pass through a palm civet. However, it is still open for debate as to whether Thailand produces kopi luwak or something else, isn't it?

Anyway, I think you get the point.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Lawbugger...

No pun intended of course! ;)

I guess this is the connoisseurs vs. just having to try it crowd argument, right? There will be those that can break it down and describe the sweet earthiness and perhaps the ever so slight chocolate flavours and a lingering bitterness on the palate. And, then there are those who cannot work out what the fuss is about.

I prefer Acehnese coffee as well. I do not mind some good beans sourced from Timor Leste, but if I had to pick an absolute favourite then I would go with Aceh. Although, it needs to be coarsely ground and the sediment needs to be heavy enough to settle nicely at the bottom of the mug.

That is just me, though.

Anonymous said...

I think about the argument Malaysia ans Indonesian has is just because they came from same culture. So obviously they have mix heritage and stuffs. But there are differents. for example ; there's batik indonesia and batik malaysia (or more known as batik terengganu)..So they just gotta toerelate each other and aware of that condition..From my opinion , sometimes people gets too emotional and overreacting .

And this coffee wise my friends has tried this in Thailand. She said it was reallygood. Taste better the normal coffee. *woaaah*

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

There are similarities and distinct differences. Yes, tolerance would be something that both sides could invest a little more in.

I think coffee generally is an acquired taste, but this is particularly true for kopi luwak.

Anonymous said...

I am Indonesian and I feel pity for coffee lovers who drink something fake or not original. It's a waste of both money and experience. Indonesia has long been internationally famous for its variations of coffee. Go to Starbucks and check that the Toraja coffee from Sulawesi is on display. I read on the Net that they had patented it. Other variations include Sumatran Gayo and Mandailing type and the fame of Java coffee has inspired the geniuses at SUN Microsystems to name their new program JAVA, with the symbol of a cup of hot coffee. You may call Thailand's attempt to steal Indonesian treasure, as what Malaysians have always tried, but I believe quality will speak outloud. It is not coincidence if Oprah Winfrey and Jack Nicholson praised Kopi Luwak from Sumatra, not from other regions, as the best. I hope coffee lovers won't be misinformed about the authenticity of Kopi Luwak, since it's like buying your iPhone made in USA and iPhone made in other countries.

ivor otley said...

Hi,my friend of many years, Toni who is married to an Indonesian lady from Bali, recently made a trip to Bali and brought me back 50 gm of Kopi Luwak, it cost 15.00. I think that is the going price for the locals or "people in the know". I had always wanted to taste this expensive drink.
It was branded "Butterfly Globe". I brewed myself a small cup of coffee and drank it black with a light sugar content. To my disappointment it tasted very ordinary, so much so that I reckon any number of the average coffee brands would easily taste better. My advice, to anyone anxious to try this mysterious coffee,is this, dont waste your money, Ivor Otley

Finn Felton said...

Nice blog post, mate. I would like to experience how Kopi Luwak tastes when it is chilled. Has anyone tried it?