If there’s one thing you have to do in Java, it’s indulge in a cup of coffee –
And I decided to try coffee luwak, or civet coffee as it’s called in English.
Civet coffee is the foie gras of Asia … some people are willing to pay up to £60 for a cup, while others think it’s a cruel practice and should be outlawed.
I was assured that the civets that had predigested my coffee (to put it politely) were free range and lived in the coffee plantations, foraging freely and not kept in cages and force-fed coffee beans. But they would say that, wouldn’t they?
The civets I saw all seemed very tame and happy. People think they’re a type of cat, but they are actually a totally different species, although they seem very docile, just like cats. They aren’t kept in cages; they just doze away in the sunshine and each coffee luwak house has its own civets as pets to show the visitors –
And I bonded instantly with this one –
Do you know what this is?
It’s civet poo … full of coffee beans that are full-flavoured but much less acidic than coffee beans that haven’t been harvested from the faeces of a small mammal.
I tried the coffee –
– and it was very good. Would I pay £60 a cup for it? No, it wasn’t that good. I willingly forked out £2.50 for a small cup, but balked at paying £20 for a small packet to take home and treat my friends to coffee luwak. So … sorry folks, if you want a cup of civet poo coffee, you’ll have to come to Java and buy your own.
Java is also famous for shadow puppets, so I went to a workshop where they were making them for a performance at the Sultan’s palace on Sunday.
The puppet maker explained that they make them out of the leather from sacred buffaloes kept at temples for religious purposes –
– because the problem with working buffaloes is that farmers hit them with sticks which damages the hide.
He was keen to show me the tools he uses to make the puppets –
– which are all crafted from motorbike wheel spokes.
It takes a week to make one puppet –
– and when you I look at the detail, you can see why –
I had to leave before the performance (work getting in the way of pleasure, yet again) so the puppet maker gave me an impromptu performance, holding a fabric screen up underneath a ceiling light –
– I now have another skill on my wish list … to become a shadow puppeteer.