Still on Day Three at The Illy and having had a consecutive lechon brunch and a pizza after-brunch, we went off to Kopi Luwak for caffeine digestive. I’ve had Civet Cat Coffee before but it registered largely unremarkable as I was then overwhelmed by the thought of sipping a brew of what was literally excrement. Having more faith in, rather, more acceptance of our Third World food-production values and our racial predisposition to having highly-resistant inherent gut flora , I decided to give it another go. Good practice for Black Ivory aka Elephant Dung Coffee.
Kopi Luwak, the café, is located at the ground floor of an ancestral home converted into a pension house. It was a lovely, little, glassed-in affair looking out into a bonsai garden. They retained elements of the original 70’s American-style architectural details which added to its small city charm.
The Civet Cat Coffee came in two brewing methods, distilled and Vietnamese drip process. Preferring hot over cold, I chose the former. Our barista came well-educated on the nuances of the process, explaining everything in detail. Water was poured into a round flask held on its short neck with what looked like a microscope stand. The distillation filter was lowered into that and freshly ground premium organic Palm Civet Cat Coffee Beans were poured into the open receptacle. An alcohol lamp was lit under the whole array. The boiling water rose up the glass tube and into the upper receptacle where it mixed with the ground coffee. Our barista briskly stirred the mixture and later removed the burner. The coffee mixture filtered back into the lower flask and, all other apparatuses removed, our barista ceremoniously poured the coffee into a locally-produced, glazed clay cup. The coffee was seemingly devoid of acidity, the excellent bitter of the roast ringing clear. Very smooth but not any more flavorful than a regular cup of local bean brew. Pretty good for something that passed through an animal’s gut.
The PussyKat’s Café Da Sua Phan was a Vietnamese preparation using a local variety of beans. A tall glass was filled a fourth with condensed milk then assembled with an aluminum drip filter on top. The beans were loaded into the filter and hot water was poured in. A dark, syrupy coffee mixture slowly dripped into the contrasting creamy white color of the milk. Another fourth of the glass filled, the drip filter was removed and the black and white layers were stirred in. A cup of Dilmah brand Ceylon was served on the side as ice cubes were added to cool and dilute the preparation. We were informed that the Vietnamese traditionally drink hot tea before having their cold coffee. The old herb taste of Ceylon prepared the palate for the sweet assault of condensed milk and the rich note of the coffee.
Flipping through an info booklet on the table, we found out that the shop also made coffee art. I’m a sucker for such novelty. I ordered a latte with a teddy bear foam design with the excuse of getting to take photos for my sister. What’s another cup of coffee, anyway? Chugged that hot one rather quickly. It tasted just like any latte but, again, it was one with a foam teddy bear.
Admittedly, all that spectacle may have added to my positive judgment. Then again food, and drink, is not just about filling your belly and whetting your taste buds but it is also about the experience. It’s little surprises like these tucked into unassuming corners that coax the lips into a smile.
An old, raised swimming pool at the far end of the garden now held Koi and lilies. Fish food was available at the counter for ten. Perfect. Just perfect to while away the remainder of a lovely afternoon.