"Before" shot of a luwak and his coffee beans

“Before” shot of a luwak and his coffee beans

The world’s most exquisite coffee—and certainly the most expensive—is made from coffee beans that have been eaten, partially digested, and excreted by a small Southeast Asian creature called the luwak.

This coffee-making process, which I hadn’t heard of before visiting Bali, raised plenty of questions:

  • Who discovered that the excrement of a small, nocturnal mammal could be scavenged from the forest floor, cleaned, and roasted to produce a superior cup of coffee?
  • How, exactly, was this discovery made?
  • How does one verify the authenticity of a brew marketed as the luwak’s finest production?
  • Why was the animal given the scientific name Paradoxurus hermaphroditus?
  • And, of course, what makes the beverage so delicious?

Come along as I explore Bali, track down the paradoxical creature that produces Indonesian Kopi Luwak, and learn its secrets in the story “Magical Beans.”