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Aug 27, 2013
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Don’t worry, it is safe to drink Kopi Luwak!

-OLD POSTING-

Elvera N. Makki, Contributor/Houston, Texas

The Jakarta Post, Features News – Friday, February 18, 2005

Do you dare drinking Kopi Luwak, a coffee which beans are coming out of Luwak’s feces? Is it safe enough for your stomach?

“Yes, it is” said Adjunct Professor Massimo Marcone, a food scientist from University of Guelp, Ontario, Canada, “although the beans has passed through luwak’s digestive system, my test shows that the counts of bacteria are lower on Kopi Luwak than on regular coffee. A strange finding but one that has been subjected to a repeated battery of scientific tests.” he added.

Marcone has been studied about Kopi Luwak for two years. He traveled to Indonesia in 2003 and came back about a month a go for additional research.

“As a food scientist, I’m skeptical that anything being in contact with feces is safe,” said Marcone. “But tests revealed that the Kopi Luwak beans had negligible amounts of enteric (pathogenic) organisms associated with feces.”

In fact, the luwak beans on the market are quite clean. The local Indonesian collecting the beans perform an extensively wash under running water after collection, which dislodges bacteria.

He also analyzed that the “cherry,” or endocarp surrounding the bean, was not completely digested by the Luwak; hence, it must be removed during processing. “This likely leads to a more thorough washing process.”

Including on his research was whether or not passing through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of the Luwak was in fact affecting the flavor of the beans, making it uniquely different from the regular ones.

So together with other members of his department, he completed a series of tests on the Kopi Luwak beans and compared them with Columbian beans, which were used as a control.

First, they examined if there was any color differences between unroasted samples of the two beans. Using a colorimeter – an instrument that detects different colors – they found that the Kopi Luwak beans had more red and yellow tones, whereas the control beans were more greenish in color.

Then, the surfaces of the two beans were examined using a scanning electron microscope. The Kopi Luwak beans were found to be smoother than the control, indicating that the gastric acids and/or enzymes of the Luwak were exfoliating the surface of the bean, explained Marcone.

Pitting was also observed on the surface, and the next step was to determine if the acids and enzymes were actually penetrating the Kopi Luwak beans, affecting them in some way.

Electrophoresis – a method that “fingerprints” proteins – was used to determine differences in the protein content of Kopi Luwak and control beans. The Kopi Luwak beans were found to be lower in total protein, meaning that proteins were partially broken down and leached out during their travel in GI tract of the Luwak.

This has the potential to affect the flavor and aroma of the beans because as we may all aware that proteins are responsible for much of the flavor, particularly bitterness. Since Kopi Luwak beans have less protein, they may produce a less bitter coffee, which for some people has made it a premium taste.

Analysis of the volatile compounds that also responsible for flavor and aroma also showed that they were significantly different than the control, further indicating the potential for Kopi Luwak coffee having a different flavor than ordinary coffee.

It’s also believed that fermentation process inside the luwak’s digestive system could give the coffee a unique flavor, “More tests need to be completed, though, to determine if in fact a flavor difference is occurring.”

In the coffee industry, wet processed or fermented coffees are known to have superior flavor to dry-processed coffee, “When coffee cherries are processed through the digestive track, they actually undergo a type of wet processing due to acidification in the stomach and fermentation due to the natural intestinal microflora.”

”The exceptional Kopi Luwak flavor could be due to the type of wet process the beans undergo in the luwak’s digestive tracks,” he said.

On the last trip to Indonesia, Marcone was stationed in Padang (West Sumatra) but the plantation he visited was in Northern Sumatra.

He met few people including the owner of the plantation who has collected over seventy kilos of the beans for this year, and he actually also enjoyed collecting his own Kopi Luwak.

If the plantation owner he met was the same person who dealt with the US specialty coffee importer LJ Cooper Co., it must be a very good news for the company that the beans are finally about to ship in.

It is obvious that neither Cooper nor Marcone revealed the detail contact of the plantation owner with me or anybody, not even shared the exact place where the luwak’s beans were found.

It is understandable since confidentiality is what matter most, considering exploitation of Luwak may occur if the name and place are disclosed.

How the luwaks eat the reddest ripest cherry and the time when they relieve themselves are very natural process. People who has a big obsession to make money out of it may jeopardize that process. They may start to breed the luwaks which has been avoided from the beginning. If this happens, no more exclusivity.

Marcone brought home some of the beans for additional research, “I will possibly publish another paper especially should there are any new findings but it will surely take time and need more research dollar.” ended Marcone. (*written by vera makki - http://kopiluwakstory.blogspot.com/)

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Aug 27, 2013
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Movie Review – Elysium

Terus terang hanya satu yang membuat saya tertarik menerima tawaran suami saya untuk nonton film Elysium (dimana saya sebenarnya masih ingin menonton film yang lebih ringan seperti Turbo). Alasannya adalah: Jodie Foster.

Sudah lama saya tidak melihat penampilannya, terutama sejak akting briliannya di film ‘Silence of the Lamb’. Wajah Jodie Foster pun di film ini semakin cantik dan kece berat :D Tidak semua perempuan cocok dengan rambut pendek seperti dirinya di film Elysium. Sayangnya, peran yang dimainkan kurang menggigit, apalagi kematiannya berlangsung datar, tanpa perlawanan, tanpa klimaks yang dramatis.

Elysium tak ubahnya film yang saat ini banyak ditampilkan oleh sutradara Holywood, yaitu sejak konsep ‘brain plug-in’ diperkenalkan pada film Matrix. It’s a science fiction action-thriller yang disutradarai oleh Neil Blomkamp – seorang bocah (ya, karena usianya di bawah 3 tahun dari saya) kelahiran Afrika Selatan.

Bagi saya, film ini menarik karena mengingatkan kita dan berbicara mengenai kondisi dunia di masa depan apabila bumi ini dihancurkan secara perlahan oleh kerakusan manusia yang memporak-porandakan keseimbangan lingkungan. Secara prinsip, film ini membawa satu pesan utama seperti halnya film After Earth atau film kartun The Lorax: we need to preserve the world.

Yang mengesankan dari film ini adalah keterlibatan alur cerita yang mengedepankan sisi humanis dibalik kebrutalan dan bersimbahnya darah di sana sini. Saya terkesan dengan perjuangan sang ibu untuk menyembuhkan anaknya di stadium akhir leukemia (walaupun saya penasaran, siapakah bapak dari anak tersebut dan berharap dalam satu scene bahwa Matt Damon merupakan ayahnya). Sayangnya, film ini tak sanggup membuat saya menangis, berbeda saat saya menonton film Mr. Go atau Toy Story 3. But this film got me thinking about what the future holds for my children IF we do careless to the environment. Good reminder.

Elysium juga menggambarkan tentang ketidakadilan perlakuan (the poor stays in the earth, the rich stays in a better air of Elysium) dan pentingnya memiliki mimpi serta harapan. Harapan untuk hidup, harapan untuk menyembuhkan penyakit, dan mimpi untuk mendapatkan kehidupan yang lebih baik.

Well, overall, not bad. But I’d prefer to watch Matt Damon in Bourne series or Ocean’s trilogy :p

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Aug 27, 2013
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Di Depan Mata

Di depan mata saya, berdiri seorang ibu muda yang tak yakin usianya berapa. Di depan mata saya, ia berharap anak satu-satunya dapat sekolah suatu saat nanti. Anak perempuan usia 5 tahun yang belum pernah sekolah, belum bisa baca tulis karena sang ibu pun tidak bisa baca tulis. Anak ini tidak memiliki akte kelahiran, sang ibu berpikir usianya 25 tahun saat suaminya yakin istrinya lahir pada tahun 1985. “Jika yakin lahir di tahun 85, berarti umur kamu sekarang 28 tahun, bukan 25.” ujar saya. Ia hanya menatap suaminya, berharap mendapatkan jawaban. Sang suami diam, menatap saya, mengangguk kecil tanda tak pasti.

Berikut percakapan yang membuat hati saya terburai. Namanya Irah. Suaminya Sunar. Anaknya Siti Padilah, panggilan Sipa. Awalnya Irah datang dan bertanya:

“Anak saya mau sekolah di PAUD ibu.”

“Usianya berapa?”

“5 tahun. Sekolah itu sampai kapan ya bu?”

“Saya tidak punya PAUD. Saya kirim buku cerita anak-anak ke berbagai daerah. Saya kasih beberapa ya untuk anak kamu”

“Tapi saya gak bisa baca bu. Sama sekali gak ngerti. Makanya anak saya belum bisa baca. Gak ada yang ngajarin.”

“Kenapa tidak disekolahkan?”

“Makanya saya tanya ibu. Saya masukin ke SD aja ya bu, taon depan, pas 6 tahun.”

“Anak yang masuk SD harus sudah bisa baca, paling tidak sedikit. Usia 5 tahun sudah seharusnya masuk TK, bukan PAUD. PAUD itu untuk anak usia 3-4 tahun. Untuk masuk SD, harus punya Akte Kelahiran. Ada kan?”

“Gak ada bu, dulu dapat surat lahir. Kebawa banjir. Gak tau sekarang kemana.”

“Kamu ada KTP? Sunar ada KTP?”

“Ada”

“Bagus! Sipa dulu lahir di bidan atau RS?”

“RS bu…”

“Bagus! Cepet kesana, minta akte kelahiran atau surat lahir, urus sampai akte kelahiran jadi. Ini buat masa depan anak kamu. Kasihan kalau tidak ada akte. Begitu ada akte, daftar sekolah TK. Dia masih ada kesempatan satu tahun lagi sebelum ke SD. Gaji sekarang berapa?”

“Satu juta bu.”

“OK, satu juta. Kalian bertiga kan kerja jadi PRT, tidak perlu ada biaya makan, semua sudah ditanggung. Tidak perlu pusing dengan kontrak rumah karena tinggal di rumah majikan yang cukup nyaman. Satu juta cukup untuk ditabung sebagian, dan untuk biaya sekolah anak. Urus secepatnya.”

Mereka mengangguk. Saya berjanji pada diri sendiri, bahwa bulan depan, akan mencari mereka, menanyakan perkembangannya. Kedua orang ini sudah tidak bisa diselamatkan, dalam hal merubah nasib. Anak 5 tahun ini, jika dibesarkan dengan tepat, bisa merubah nasibnya dan membantu orang tuanya, Insya Allah.

Berbicara mengenai misi Taman Bacaan Anak Lebah yang berfokus di Indonesia Timur, saya melihat di depan mata, di kota paling maju di Indonesia, masih ada keterbelakangan. Let’s do something for this little innocent girl. Saya yakin masih banyak Sipa-Sipa lain di sekeliling Anda. Look around and please help them.

(*written by Vera Makki – www.veramakki.com )

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@vera_makki

Current post:

Country Head Corporate Affairs, Citi Indonesia (Citibank, N.A., Indonesia)

Founder #TamanBacaAnakLebah and #BookSTech (Books, Storytelling, and Technology)

Member of: IABC (www.iabc.com) and PRSA (Public Relations Society of America)

Previous track (from recent to past):
- Deputy Director Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Mercedes-Benz Indonesia
- Corporate Affairs Manager, Fonterra Brands Indonesia
- Communications Manager, Unilever Indonesia
- Public Affairs Manager, Indo Pacific PR
- Consultant, Ogilvy PR
- PR Officer, Hotel Mulia Senayan

Past part-time:
- Lecturer, Communications, International Program, University of Indonesia
- Radio Announcer, Ardan FM, Bandung, West Java
- Contributing writer, The Jakarta Post and various media

Highlights on Achievement & Recognition (recent to past):
- Named 50 Asia's Women Leaders from CMO Asia
- Shine on Awards from Good Housekeeping Indonesia
- The first Indonesian earned Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) from International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), San Francisco, US (www.iabc.com)

A glimpse of me:
#coffeelover #catlover . A wife, a mother of three wonderful kids. Enjoy driving a car, #travelling , #swimming , and #readingbooks . Love to #dance . Crazy about books and share them with the unfortunate children. #gogreen. #cintaIndonesia. Live life to the fullest!

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