Java – Indonesia
Mystery and Legend of the Kopi Luwak and Ancient Traditions

Java is the most interesting island in all of Indonesia in terms of coffee culture, thanks to the co-existence of the Hindu-Buddhist, Oriental, Muslim and Western communities. Coffee only arrived in Java in 1706, brought by Dutch merchants who wanted to start a tropical climate cultivation. The first crops of the Java variety were a surprising success. A “rust” epidemic then led to a more resistant species being favoured. The precious, almost legendary variety “Kopi Luwak coffee” is exclusive to the island and fetches dizzying prices. It can only be obtained through the digestive process of a civet called the Luwak, a small local mammal greedy for coffee berries. The digestive enzymes intervene somehow during the process, diminishing the coffee’s bitter notes and imparting a particular aroma. In Java, coffee is also central to mysterious traditions such as the veneration of the white buffalo, a magical animal to which offerings of bananas and coffee are made, and at funeral ceremonies where the deceased is accompanied by a cup of coffee and a pack of local cigarettes. Lastly, coffee is part of beauty and well-being rituals that exploit its cosmetic and therapeutic properties – massages, scrubs, face masks...

The recipes
Kopi santen
Coffee with coconut cream
1/2 coconut
1 heaped teaspoon coffee powder
2/3 glass boiling water
1/3 glass coconut cream
3 teaspoons palm sugar
water as needed
Preparation of coconut cream

Choose a ripe coconut that is still full of milk, drill a hole through one of the three upper eyelets, extract all the liquid and put it to one side. With a sturdy, heavy object bang the entire surface of the fruit, turning it around the palm of your left hand: this makes it easier for the pulp to detach from the woody shell. Open the shell with a firm blow and separate it from the pulp. Finely grate half of the fruit into a bowl, cover the pulp with the same amount of water, stir well and filter, wringing the mixture to extract as much coconut cream as possible. Set aside. To simplify the recipe, buy canned coconut cream, available in Asian supermarkets.


Pour a spoon of heaped coffee into a glass and fill up to 2/3 with boiling water, add the sugar and stir thoroughly to dissolve it. Complete by pouring in the coconut cream and serve.


A spiced version, called Bajigur, is often prepared in Western Indonesia.

Kopi telur madu
Coffee with egg yolk and honey
1 heaped teaspoon coffee
3 teaspoons palm sugar
1 egg yolk
4 teaspoons honey
boiling water

Pour 3 teaspoons of palm sugar, 1 teaspoon of coffee and 1 egg yolk into a glass, blend well until fluid but creamy. Fill to the brim with boiling water, add extra sweetness with 4 teaspoons of honey, stirring continuously to blend all the ingredients, and serve hot.