Kopi Luwak

Last week during dinner with some coworkers, I brought up about the most expensive coffee in the world. It started with talking about water, tea, and coffee having no calories if you don’t add milk or sugar. So while on the topic of coffee, I had remember seeing them talking about the most expensive coffee in the world in a Chinese detective drama series I saw a few years back. I forgot what it was called, but I remember how it was made. I recalled that they had to feed the coffee beans to a cat. The cat would them poop it back out (I know, faux pas for dinner topic). Somehow, during the digestion process, the cats inner body adds something to the coffee beans that makes it taste and smell a lot better.

Everyone was so disgusted by this fact, they claimed they wouldn’t even try it. I couldn’t understand why… I mean, the coffee beans will be thoroughly wash and all the poop would be removed and there won’t be any remnants of the poop or the coffee beans ever being inside a cat’s stomach. I had brought up about vegetables being inside fertilizer and people just washing it and eating that, but they said fertilizer wasn’t exactly poop. Xyon gave the example of if I would eat undigested corn stuck in my poop if they washed it very carefully. He does have a point, but nonetheless, I don’t think my stomach makes corn taste or smell better, so I wouldn’t do it.

Anyway, after I came home, I decided to look up some information. It turns out it’s called Kopi Luwak. According to Wikipedia:

Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between $120 and $600 USD per pound, and is sold mainly in Japan and United States, but it is increasingly becoming available elsewhere, though supplies are limited. One small cafe, the Heritage Tea Rooms, in the hills outside Townsville in Queensland, Australia has Kopi Luwak coffee on the menu at A$50.00 per cup.

Kopi is the Indonesian word for coffee, and luwak is a local name of the Palm Civet. The raw, red coffee berries are part of its normal diet, along with insects, small mammals, small reptiles, eggs and nestlings of birds, and other fruit. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but it is believed that enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee’s flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are excreted still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process.

So it turns out a it’s not exactly a cat. A Palm Civet is actually a cat-sized mammal in the family Viverridae, sometimes referred to as the Toddy Cat. And it’s not really coffee beans, but coffee berries. I had no idea coffee berries existed. Anyway, I’ve pretty much gotten to the point I’d tried anything if someone recommends it to me, and wouldn’t mind trying a cup of this coffee. I personally don’t like coffee that much, and if I do drink it, it’s usually in the form of mocha or a lot of milk and sugar.

But A$50 (~US$40) for a cup of coffee… Wow!

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