Here’s a question – what’s the deal with Kopi Luwak? Such as other premium and famous coffees (Blue Mountain Coffee or Panama Geisha Coffee) , you’ve heard of it, you know it’s expensive and you’re aware of its reputation, but really…what’s it all about?
Well, Kopi Luwak first hit the headlines for being the most expensive coffee in the world. Then for being one of the strangest in terms of production methods, then having been rated as one of the best. Since then, there’s been much controversy surrounding its production and variations in quality from one manufacturer to the next. So in order to clear up the controversy and confusion, we’ve decided to put answers to some of the most important questions surrounding Kopi Luwak.
First up, for a high-quality cup of Kopi Luwak in a reputable coffee shop, you can expect to pay anything from £15 up to £100. A bag of beans could set you back anything from £50 to £500. It all depends on the origins of the beans, production methods, how rare the beans in question are and so on. In any case, it’s expensive – anything you come across on the cheap probably isn’t the real deal.
The translation of Kopi Luwak is quite simple – Kopi is the word for coffee in Indonesian, while Luwak is the palm civet cat that’s central to the production of Kopi Luwak.
Here’s where things get really interesting. First of all, the finest coffee berries in the world are eaten by the palm civet cats as a natural part of their diet. However, during the digestion process, the coffee bean itself is not digested. Instead, it passes directly through the cat, is expelled in the cats’ faeces and remains undamaged. It is then that the beans that have passed through the cats’ digestive systems are picked and further processed by the producers of Kopi Luwak coffee.
In a word, yes. Far from just a gimmick, Kopi Luwak is unique because of the way in which the beans are exposed to a unique fermentation process while travelling through the cats. Though the beans are not digested, the digestive system of the cats has an effect on the beans which gives them an incredibly rich and 100% unique flavour. It is a process and effect that cannot be synthetically replicated – hence the uniqueness of Kopi Luwak.
Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world due to its quality and rarity. Along with being simply outstanding in flavour, the coffee is produced in incredibly small batches each year. In fact, some years the civets are only able to collectively produce around 500kg in an entire year. This is why the price is not only high, but also varies significantly from one year to the next.
Not really, as while the process the beans pass through may sound a little odd, they’re subsequently cleaned, processed and prepared in a manner that’s 100% hygienic. So when Kopi Luwak beans are sold-on for use, they’re as clean and safe as any other coffee beans out there.
Kopi Luwak became controversial due to a small contingency of producers looking to exploit its high price at the expense of the palm civet cats. Rather than allowing nature to take its course in a few select regions where the cats are native, animals in captivity were forced to produce Kopi Luwak coffee in an entirely unnatural manner. The cats were often kept in hideous conditions and force-fed dangerous (or even deadly) quantities of coffee berries, in order to produce as much Kopi Luwak as possible. The global coffee community in general condemns this inhuman production process and advises against buying Kopi Luwak from any seller that cannot trace the product back to ethical origins. Once again, when Kopi Luwak is sold for suspiciously low prices, it’s important to question where it actually came from.
Absolutely, and you really can’t call yourself a true coffee connoisseur until you have tried it. The flavour itself is so much smoother and less bitter than regular coffee, plus Kopi Luwak has a comparatively low caffeine content. It has a distinctly earthy and rich flavour profile, though the exact taste tends to differ quite significantly from one batch to the next. Plus this is one coffee you’re unlikely to see make it to the blackboard at your local coffee shop, so if you’re out to give it a try yourself, you’ll have to sniff out a batch of the best (and most ethical) Kopi Luwak beans on the market and make with the brewing at home.
Sign up to be the first to know about Hayman’s new releases and more!