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

When it comes to the coffee culture, Java is the most interesting of all the Indonesian islands, thanks to the coexistence of various communities: Indo-Buddhist, Oriental, Muslim and Western. Coffee only came to Java in 1706. It was imported by Dutch merchants who wanted to begin growing the plant in a tropical climate. The first harvests of the Java variety were a surprising success, but an epidemic of coffee rust led to a preference for more resistant varieties. The island has an extremely valuable, almost legendary variety: Luwak, which can be eye-wateringly expensive. It is obtained thanks to the digestive process of the luwak, a small mammal which loves to feed on coffee beans. Apparently, the animal’s digestive enzymes reduce the bitterness of the coffee and give it a special aroma. In Java, coffee is also part of a mysterious tradition, the worship of the White Buffalo, a magical animal to whom bananas and coffee are offered. It is also important in funeral ceremonies, where the deceased is bidden farewell with a cup of coffee and packet of local cigarettes. Coffee is also used in beauty and wellness rituals such as massages, scrubs and face masks, which make the most of its cosmetic, therapeutic properties.

The recipes
Kopi santen
Coconut cream coffee
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
Coconut cream preparation

Choose a ripe coconut that is full of milk. Make a hole in the shell of the fruit, punching through one of the three upper eyelets, extract all the liquid and set aside. Use a heavy, sturdy object to knock against the entire surface of the fruit, rotating it in the palm of your left hand, so that the flesh of the fruit will detach more easily from the woody shell. Then, with a firm blow, open the shell and separate it from the flesh. Grate half of the fruit into a bowl. Cover with the same amount of water, mix well, and then filter and squeeze the mixture to extract as much coconut cream as possible. Set aside. To simplify the recipe, buy canned coconut cream, available in Asian supermarkets.


Add a heaped teaspoon of coffee to a glass and fill it 2/3 of the way with boiling water. Add the sugar and mix carefully to dissolve. Pour in the coconut cream and serve.


In West Java they make a version flavored with spices, called bajigur.

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

Add three teaspoons of palm sugar, one teaspoon of coffee, and one egg-yolk to a glass and stir until you have a fluid but creamy mixture. Top off with boiling water, and sweeten further with four teaspoons of honey, stirring continuously to blend all the ingredients together. Serve hot.