When two world leaders meet they traditionally exchange gifts representative of their respective countries as a means of showing esteem for their counterparts. However, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's (SBY) attempt to give Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, a suitable gift during his recent visit to Australia may – for lack of a better term – have "backfired."
Kopi Luwak is a type of Indonesian coffee highly prized by connoisseurs worldwide for its distinctive taste. Produced in limited quantities and sold at premium prices, Kopi Luwak is the result of a process; to be more specific: the alimentary process of the civet or musang cat that feeds on only the most select and ripest coffee beans still growing on the vine. The beans pass through the mammal's digestive system and are later retrieved by "pooper scoopers" at the exit end of the animal. Experts will debate whether the much-praised flavor of Kopi Luwak is more tied to the beans interaction with the digestive enzymes of the cat or the finicky way in which only the finest beans are ingested. We vote with "selectionist," sensing a decline in Kopi Luwak quality tied to the current use of captive musang who are force fed coffee beans selected by their keepers.
But, we digress.
In the best Australian tradition and determined to share a "cuppa" with Kevin Rudd, SBY packed brought a pack of Kopi Luwak to present during his recent State visit to Canberra only to have Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services (AGIS) seize the gift, claiming the bean's origin may mean the coffee might "potentially be contaminated with exotic and endemic pathogens."
Considering that coffee is roasted at temperatures ranging between 188 and 282 ° Centigrade for as long as 30 minutes, the seizure may prove that Indonesia not only produces strong coffee but strong pathogens, as well.
But, in fairness to the dedicated men and women who work at AQIS and considering the orifice that yielded the Kopi Luwak, they may have a point.
So, we wonder if Mr. Rudd would like another local delicacy - a dozen Telor asin (bitter eggs)?
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