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.
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
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.
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.
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 ☺.
|Comparison||Kopi Luwak (Shit Coffee)||Gomutra (Cow pee)|
|Price||USD 50 for 250 ml||USD 1 for 250 ml|
|Aroma||Pungent Coffee||Camembert Cheese like|
|After Taste||Astringent Bitter||Minty Salty|
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.