Want to know which are the most expensive coffee beans in the world?
The answer is Kopi Luwak.
This strange name represents one of the most desirable and rare types of coffee you will ever hear in your life.
If you want to know more about this expensive and extravagant coffee, keep reading this comprehensive article about Kopi Luwak.
Let’s get into it.
What is Kopi Luwak?
Kopi Luwak, also known as Cat Poop Coffee or Civet Cat Coffee, is an interesting coffee beverage produced in Indonesia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, East Timor, and the Philippines.
Kopi Luwak comes from the Indonesian words Kopi (Coffee) and Luwak (Civet).
The Asian Palm Civet is an animal similar to a normal cat but with shorter legs and a longer tail. They have a body length of 53 cm (21 inches) and a height of between 2 to 5 kg (4.4 to 11lb).
Now, talking about coffee, this beverage is so popular not for its flavor but for its preparation process. Basically, to make this coffee an animal called Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus) selects the best coffee cherries, eats them, digests them, and poops them.
Yes, these coffee beans are extracted from cat poop. But why and how?
Well, researchers found that natural enzymes in the Asian Palm Civet’s intestines make the beans less acidic and bitter.
In less scientific words, when these cats digest the coffee beans, the digestion process in their intestines changes the composition of the coffee beans, giving them a special flavor when processed by the human being.
The Brief History of Kopi Luwak Coffee
Let’s talk about the history of the Kopi Luwak.
In the late 1600s, the Dutch established coffee plantations in Sumatra and Java, they were willing to exploit all the Indonesian resources as possible.
Those efforts ended forbidding native people from harvesting any fruits for personal interests.
As time went by, they realized that the Civets (Short version of the Asian Palm Civet) were leaving some coffee beans in their poop, so these people began to collect them and prepare their own coffee from these beans. (Yeah, it is disgusting).
Obviously, this brought problems to the locals since the Dutch overlords began to question how they were obtaining coffee beans, so they started to think that they were stealing from the plantations.
However, the locals explained to the Dutch the origin and process of this coffee that they were producing on a small scale.
Obviously, the rarity of this kind of coffee called the attention of the overlords, increasing its popularity rapidly.
Now, talking about the modern world.
Recently, in the 1900s, several television shows and books in the United States began to talk about this coffee.
Thanks to this publicity this coffee became very popular around the world, especially in America.
Let’s talk about the production process of the Kopi Luwak.
This process is divided into 5 steps:
1. Coffee Growing
Farmers start to grow arabica coffee plants These coffee plants are distributed in several countries as I said before. Indonesia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, East Timor, and the Philippines.
Once the arabica coffee plants start producing fruits, Civets start eating them.
What makes this process special is that Civets only choose the ripest and highest quality coffee cherries to eat.
However, this step is a bit controversial.
In most cases, farmers capture and cage civets and give them coffee cherries. Basically, they keep them isolated by using them as machines.
However, there are companies that prefer to use wild civets, usually, this process is much more laborious as they have to go through the forest collecting civet poop (which is not an easy task).
This is the second most important part of the process for making this coffee and it is not controlled by the human being.
Once the Civets finish eating their coffee cherries, they will digest them.
Usually, after about 24 to 36 the coffee beats eaten by the Civets are defecated.
4. Processing the Kopi Luwak
Once the Civets defecate the beans, it is time for the workers to begin the second most laborious task.
They have to collect the civet poop, extract the coffee beans and wash, dry and roast them.
This process usually takes several days, as each coffee bean must be selected one by one to ensure its quality.
After selecting and cleaning the coffee beans, the farmers place them under the sun for some time to dry them.
Once the beans are dry, the farmers begin to roast and grind them.
Generally, they use a medium roast, since several companies have discovered that by using a medium roast they can effectively highlight the flavors of this coffee.
5. Package and Distribution
Finally, workers start to package the beans and distribute them around the world.
For some people, Kopi Luwak tastes good but some experts say that it does not taste better than specialty coffee, so this type of coffee is good for curiosity, but not for everyday coffee.
However, there are things that could change its good taste.
For example, since most civets that produce Kopi Luwak beans are caged and receive poor feed, the quality of the beans is not as good as that of a wild civet.
There are also replicas of Kopi Luwak coffee made by humans, but their taste is not as good as the original, well-processed Kopi Luwak.
Did you get surprised by the production of this coffee? Then you will be astonished by its price.
The price of this coffee can vary from $100 to $1,300 per kg.
Also, a cup of this coffee costs around $35 to $100 depending on which city you are in (the brand of the coffee can affect this price too).
The price of this coffee is so elevated because of the laborious production process involved. It is something really difficult to automate and it requires a lot of time to be realized.
After reviewing all of this, we can conclude that Kopi Luwak is an extremely rare coffee.
But there are many controversies surrounding it.
It is not the most delicious coffee in the world, in fact, its taste is quite mediocre compared to other types of coffee and its production process is quite cruel to animals.
Although there are companies that are environmentally friendly and do not want to cage civets, there are many companies that exploit them in cages.
So is Kopi Luwak worth the high price?
It’s worth it for experimenting, but definitely not worth it for an everyday coffee.
Leandro Santorsola is the founder of The Coffee Arsenal. He enjoys helping people from all over the world find their ideal coffee equipment and their favorite type of Café latte.