This is a guest post and I bet you will enjoy reading it. Go for it to know what its like to taste Kopi Luwak in Vietnam and Gomutra in India. Here is my school friend, Rahul sharing his personal experience. 

Have you ever had a moment where you are at fast food restaurant and can’t make up your mind between Coke and Pepsi? Or between red and white wine at a bar? How about shit coffee or cow pee? Yea really, shit coffee or cow pee! Which one would you pick? What if I told you that shit coffee is the world’s most expensive coffee?  Or that cow pee has medicinal values? Would that help you make your mind?

My Wah Taj moment with Shit Coffee also known as Kopi Luwak happened last January in Dalat, Vietnam. The picturesque town of Dalat can best be described as Vietnam’s answer to India’s Nainital.  Both towns are centered around a lake and despite being separated by more than 5000 km, the uncanny similar shape (as can be seen from the picture below) is remarkable.

DALAT

Image result for Da lat

NAINITAL

View of Nainital Lake City

A popular honeymoon destination, Dalat is one of the few Summer Resorts or Hill Stations (as referred to in colloquial Indian English) in Vietnam. Dalat is famous for dried and candied fruits, strawberry preserves, green and artichoke tea, local wine, dried venison, orchids, strawberries, avocados, and of course coffee – the subject of our discussion. I was in Dalat for a friend’s wedding. Among others, one of the places we visited was a coffee plantation farm. I had never seen a coffee plant in my life and was quite surprised to learn that “coffee bean” is actually seed of a rather sweet berry!

Coffee berry in Dalat, Vietnam

Now, I am not a great connoisseur of coffee (tea is another matter though) but I find coffee quite bitter. The sweet berry that encapsulates it was a pleasant surprise. Do you know who else loves these sweet berries? Of course Luwak or Weasel! Weasel is a squirrel like animal. The idea behind kopi luwak (literally meaning Coffee Weasel) is that weasels improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection – weasels choosing to eat only certain cherries – and digestion – biological or chemical mechanisms in the animal’s digestive tract altering the composition of the coffee cherries.

Weasel Coffee Bean Poop

Weasel Coffee Bean Poop

Long story short, weasel is fed coffee berries and shits out partially digested beans. These beans are then used to make coffee powder, which finally landed in my cup below.

Are you ready for the coffee?
Coffee Garden

And the after-effect is here – The Wah Taj moment ☺

Fast-forward one year and this January I was in Govardhan Eco Village (GEV) on the invitation of Rajeev Srivastava of Artha Forum. While having a tour of the village, we came past goshala or cowshed. Near the cowshed was the pharmacy of GEV where among other things they prepare distilled cow pee or gomutra. Out of curiosity, I asked our guide Nimai Lila Das Ji about how non-Indians feel about the concept of drinking cow pee. The Indian Institute of Sciences trained Electrical engineer was quick to come back, “Whether you are Indian or non Indian the idea of drinking cow pee is unnerving. Would you like to try some?”  After giving a nano-second of thought and convincing myself that distillation process would have killed all microbes, I gladly took up the offer. And so did two other people in our group – All Indians and all trying cow pee shot of the first time! The YouTube video of me trying cow pee shot is available here https://youtu.be/sf0A1rO_SXw

My verdict is that cow pee actually was super salty and smelled like Camembert. In Govardhan Eco Village cows are free to lick lumps of salts as shown below. I believe this could be one of the contributing factors to the excessively salty nature of cow pee. But again, I am not sure as distillation would have made it impossible for salt to be present in the final product.

Cows licking salt in Goshala
Distillation of cow pee

The vessel used for distilling cow pee

The after-taste was minty salty and I didn’t feel any kick out of it despite  Nimai Lila Das Ji claiming that some people find cow pee akin to whiskey ☺.

ComparisonKopi Luwak (Shit Coffee)Gomutra (Cow pee)
PriceUSD 50 for 250 mlUSD 1 for 250 ml
AromaPungent CoffeeCamembert Cheese like
TasteBitterVery Salty
After TasteAstringent BitterMinty Salty
Kick FactorNoneNone

So would you be game for shit coffee or cow pee? Please let me know in comments below.

About the Author: Rahul Singh – A banker by day and writer by night, multifaceted Rahul is an expert at Connecting the Dots – be it Ideas, Insights or Individuals. A Singapore Government scholar at NTU and an MBA from IIM Bangalore, Rahul is the Secretary for IIMB Alumni Association, Singapore. He is passionate about education, poverty alleviation, technology, cross-cultural understanding and philosophy. Rahul has hosted several high profile events, advised IIMs on their International strategy and has been solicited by India’s Planning Commission ‘NITI Aayog’ on several projects. His strategy case studies have been published in an MBA textbook used by many American B-schools.

10 thoughts on “Kopi Luwak in Vietnam vs Gomutra in India”

  1. Indeed, those beans from weasels’ poop are one of the expensive coffee. This used to be explored in the forest to find their poop, but now weasels are being caged and feed them which is sad. Also feeding them isn’t enough to get the same taste of beans because they also eat other foods suitable for them in the wild. Thus, they mass produced this kopi luwak.

  2. It’s amazing that we tried copi lueak in exactly the same place. I was in dalat too and it was my first and last time to try this coffee after I learned that the animals are kept in the cages. This shouldn’t be like that and I feel sorry about this business.

  3. Omg I knew about Dalat, Vietnam and its scenic beauty but not about the coffee! That feels so gross and yet has a unique appeal! It’s such fun to learn about weird culinary traditions in different parts of the world.

  4. You are so brave! I love coffee- I mean LOVE coffee but I don’t know if I could bring myself to drink this “poop” coffee. And the cow pee…I couldn’t do it. I loved reading about your experience, though!

  5. Kopi luwak is super expensive , I found it at a place in Bali , Indonesia – it is sad that now the weasels are in captivity just to get this beans. I did try the coffee and I am no coffee expert so it tasted quite normal to me. As for cow pee , I doubt that I could try it..

  6. OMG! I had heard multiple times about Kopi Luwak but I really have no courage to try it despite everyone is saying it’s really good and delicious.

    So much more the Gomutra, it’s still a NO for me. Sharing your post to my more “adventurous” friends.

  7. Dalat is a very pretty town of Vietnam Even I find a bit similarity with Nainital. However, it breaks my heart to see how humans use animals for their own benefits whether it’s the Kopi Luwak or Gomutra. I somehow can’t support these. Otherwise, the place like Dalat is a beautiful destination to visit.

  8. Oh dear lord! Somehow I never thought of comparing Kopi Luwak to Gomutra, though I’m aware of both. Now, that’s a super cool comparison. Of everything, the price factors is at extremes!!!

  9. omg this is such a great comparison of kopu luwak and gomutra. I am a vegetarian and things like these doesn’t attract me at all.But it was really good to know about these two things in detail.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.