That time I drank "Poo" coffee in Bali.

Roasting the coffee by hand. 
When I was in Vietnam I started hearing about “poo coffee.” It is supposed to be a high end type of coffee that is essentially a non digested coffee bean that an animal eventually expels.  That’s right. The animal eats the beans, passes them, they are collected, cleaned many times, and then roasted by hand. I’m not kidding. It is nicknamed, poo coffee. There are a few different types of animals that are used for this purpose because the conditions in their body do not digest the actual bean. The digestive conditions are supposed to do something to treat the bean in a way that can’t happen anywhere else. Clearly I think this is a gimmick to charge more for coffee, but I decided to suspend my disbelief for a while.

While on the Bali Eco Cycle tour, we visited a coffee plantation and learned all about all types of coffee. In Bali they use the civet cat, but it is also called the luwak (pronounced Lua) to produce poo coffee. The civet is a cross between a fox and cat. They were all sleeping while we were there but I did get a decent look at them and that is a pretty good description. Our guide told us that they sleep most of the day and they are only used for three months at a time to produce the coffee and then they are released. But a few minutes on google and you can find that this coffee and the conditions the civets are kept in is controversial. The conditions I saw weren't great but also not as bad as I later read about. 
Civet or Luwak
Luwak coffee beans before hand roasting. 
Civet or luwak
After you get a look at the animals, they sit you down at tables overlooking the jungle and give you a coffee sampler of all the other types of coffee they grow and sell. But first they ask you if you want to try poo coffee, when we couldn’t decide, the girl really pushed us to decide. I later figured out that this was because it took a long time to prepare and it was more expensive. I was feeling…adventurous, so after some back and forth, I went for it. I later convinced the friend I was with to share it with me. We sampled all of the other coffees and then the poo coffee came out in this elaborate get up that looks like it is straight out of the chemistry lab. It looks slightly sketchy,” Breaking Bad” style.  

Coffee sampler.
Stage 1
Stage 2
The chemistry set is lit, and the fire heats up the water. The coffee and the water are eventually mixed in a bulbous glass beaker thing. It took between 5-10 minutes to prepare. I think they do this for effect considering it costs about $6 US a pop. They pour it into your mug with great fan fare and give you a cup of sugar on the side.  They do not serve milk, I asked.  I was filled with trepidation, but after a few minutes I dove in.  Play by play below.

It was super bitter. Since I usually drink my coffee with milk or cream I think it was bound to be bitter since that was missing. I added lots of sugar, and then a fellow group member at another table suggested we pour one of the other sampler coffees into it to cut the taste a bit (one of them appeared to have milk in it). It was much better after that. It honestly took us a while to get it down because of how hot and bitter it was. If I had been able to take the coffee the way I normally drink mine, it would have just tasted like an extra strong cup, but nothing really special. It was one of those, "you have to do it because it’s there travel moments."

I’d probably never choose to drink it again because of how strong it was and the animal factor, but if I didn’t already know what it was, I never would have guessed. So beware, you might be drinking poo coffee and not know it, except by the price.

Note:  This coffee goes by different names depending on the animal used and the country it is produced in. It is widely available on the Internet for outrageous prices.