The world is filled with weirdest items in all categories, from places to people to food and drinks and what not. Being a coffee person myself, I had to put this out there for people to find out that there is actually a most expensive coffee in the world – which is produced, rather uniquely.
Today, we will talk about the extraordinary civet coffee or the Kopi Luwak Coffee, where to buy it from, what is the price, is it available in India and see why is kopi luwak coffee so expensive!
Get your regular cappuccinos ready, and let’s just dive in!
What is a Kopi Luwak Coffee?
A Kopi luwak Coffee is the rarest, most exotic and expensive coffee in the world.
Made up of two primary words – Kopi meaning ‘Coffee’ and Luwak meaning ‘an Asian civet cat’ – (basically a mammal that seems to be a weird combination of a cat and a mongoose), the Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee is a unique coffee only available at limited places – mostly in and around Indonesia.
The civet cat is not basically a relative to cats but more of a mongoose tribe, although the name suggests otherwise. Only found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and Africa, the Civet is famous for two major reasons –
- Making High Fragrance Perfumes – It produces a special kind of strong-smelling secretion (or musk) from it’s perineal glands which are harvested and made into a high fragrant perfume. It has a floral and kind-of radiant smell. These perfumes were later banned due to animal rights violation.
- For the Kopi Luwak Coffee – The most expensive and exotic coffee to ever exist in the world is created with the help of these species.
Little Backstory – How the Kopi Luwak Coffee came to be?
The story takes us back to the 1800s – when the Dutch colonies of Java and Sumatra (two islands of Indonesia) produced quality coffee with the plantation process of Arabica coffee trees. Now the Dutch men stopped the local workers and farmers to pick out the fruits and stuff from the farm for themselves and forbid any native doing so. Although the Dutch people themselves took the fallen coffee fruits for themselves to have a cup-a-joe once in a while.
Later, the natives found out an interesting thing. They found out that Luwaks or a species of mongoose-like creatures called civets entered the farm and ate the fallen coffee fruits and later dropped their feces near the edges of the farm area. These feces of the animal contained partially digested coffee beans which were then secretly plucked out by the local people to clean up and roast for themselves and have the unique Arabica coffee.
Slowly, this practice started to get popular among smaller but wider colonies ruled by the Dutch. Since the practice of finding the civet feces from the farm guarded by the Dutch was difficult and scary at times – it became an expensive product.
As the colonies grew, time changed and development occurred – the unique kind of coffee making practice started to get the world’s attention. Hence, formed what we know today as the most expensive and exotic coffee in the world.
How is the Kopi Luwak Coffee Produced?
The big secret of the most expensive coffee in the world is that it is made out of poop! You heard it right! It is made by basically plucking out coffee beans from the Luwak poop and later the beans are cleaned and roasted to prepare the exotic Indonesian coffee for the world.
Let us discuss the step by step process of making the Kopi Luwak Coffee –
Step 1 – The Coffee Tree
First and foremost step in the coffee process is to grow it!
The Coffea or the Coffee tree is basically a tropical evergreen plantation which takes place mostly in tropical forests of Africa and Asia. This coffee tree produces white flowers and small red colored cherries which might attract you while strolling around near them. These red (sometimes purple) cherries consist of two seeds inside them – these are called the Coffee beans.
Step 2 – The Coffee Beans
The next step comes with the growing of the cherries on the Coffea – which makes the coffee beans.
An interesting fact – the coffee beans are not actually beans, but seeds of the cherry formed on the plant. The look and shape of these seeds is why they are referred to as beans. The cherry, when fully formed are plucked out and many fall down from the little coffee plants. That’s when the civet comes into play.
Step 3 – Civet Digestion Process
When the coffee cherries drop on the ground, the wild luwak or civet cats find and eat them. It is even said that the civets have this quality of identifying the ripest and highest quality of coffee fruits to eat. Once they do that, the coffee beans are separated inside their digestive system.
The Civet cats do not digest these beans or seeds, just the cherry covering over them. It is suggested that these half digested coffee beans is what actually tends to make the flavor of this beverage better and unique from any other source.
Many researches done by scientists have concluded that the Civets have a special natural enzyme in their intestines that make the coffee seeds (or beans) less acidic and therefore – less bitter in taste.
Step 4 – The Excretion or The Defecation
The next step happens when these coffee beans are excreted from the Civets. The civet feces are then collected and coffee beans are carefully plucked, washed and kept into the sun to let dry.
Later, when the coffee beans are dry enough to easily remove the outer skin or parchment over it, they are collected and put into a wooden mortar or large wooden bowl to be pounded with the help of a grinder.
The grinding makes the skin of the beans break apart while doing nothing to the coffee beans. Now, the beans are hand sorted to look for and remove the damaged ones.
Step 5 – The Final Processes
The final stage in the Luwak Coffee making procedure after removing the damaged beans is to go ahead for roasting them. The roasting takes place at about 220 degree Celsius, which makes sure to kill every form of bacteria that could possibly be around. These are finally roasted to make the most incredible, highly rare and fantastically expensive coffee in the world.
Why is Kopi Luwak Coffee so Expensive?
Expense or cost of something could be applied or calculated depending on the time and effort needed to prepare the special item, right? A Kopi Luwak Coffee ranges from anywhere around $35 to $100 a cup and easily about $300 to $400 (maybe even more) for a kg.
The Kopi Luwak Coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world because of the time and effort the local farmers have to go through to collect the Luwak or Civet Cat’s feces and continue with the process to make them into the best possible coffee beans. Looking for feces in the wild is a difficult task on its own and when about 10 kilograms of a raw kopi luwak only produces about 2 kilograms of the roasted coffee, that makes the efforts and time much more.
Add that to the fact that these animal species are themselves a rare catch in most of the places. Farmers say the best time to look for the coffee filled feces of the creature is during the early morning time. And the most messed up part about it is that after roaming around the wild for two to three hours, they only gather about six to seven good coffee beans.
The next time taking process arrives during the cleaning of the beans and separating it from the feces. With so many diseases and food-borne illness throughout the world, it is an important task for the producers to clean the coffee beans as thoroughly as possible. They would not want people getting contaminated due to the very thing that attracted them to you from the corners of the world, right? Imagine the pressure.
Where can I buy Kopi Luwak Coffee? Is it available in India?
Now that you know why is kopi luwak coffee so expensive, you might want to know where could you find it or buy it from?
The most authentic Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee can be found in Indonesia – especially in islands like Bali, Sumatra, Java. You may also find them in parts of the Philippines where they are grown and gathered for production from the forests around.
A few years back, sometime in 2017 – the newspaper read “India starts producing the most expensive coffee in the world” and it was a talked about subject as the topic was unique. Everyone wanted to know what it’s all about. Many people found out about this coffee and why is Kopi Luwak coffee so expensive during that time.
India is the third largest coffee producer in Asia and in 2017, a start up called Coorg Consolidated Commodities (CCC) or Ainmane became the producer of the world’s most expensive and unique coffee. And continues to be so till date.
The price of one kilogram of the Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee in Coorg is placed around Rs. 20,000 to Rs.25,000.
Coorg, Karnataka consists of 30% rainforest and has four types of the civet cats existing in them. In the coffee season they eat coffee berries from which (like the Indonesian method), the CCC gathers, cleans, dries up and roasts the coffee beans to produce Kopi Luwak.
You can also get the Kopi Luwak Coffee from the Ainmane website delivered to your homes. The price for a 100gm coffee is Rs.900.
What does Kopi Luwak Coffee taste like?
Kopi Luwak Coffee is made up of the most delicious Arabica Coffee plantations which means even after all the various stages of production, they carry the caramel, nutty and chocolaty taste with them. Other than that, the unique procedure of creating Coffee from the plantation via a Civet or Luwak’s digestive system – only makes the taste more earthy, musty, also smoother and filled with a splendid aroma.
Certified blinded tasters have came to the conclusion that the coffee has no major difference than a regular authentic Coffee Arabica other than being a little more smoother and with a little bit more aroma.
The major difference comes not in the production, neither in the way we consume it, but all in all it falls over the careful selection of the best coffee fruits by the animals. Quite truly, Civets are very picky and if given the freedom to choose from the lot of coffee cherries spread all over – they would no doubt choose the best of the best ones.
I guess that is basically what would make the coffee hit different than any other – smoother, properly blended with a perfect hint of nuts, caramel and chocolate.
Conclusion – Is the Kopi Luwak Coffee worth it?
That is basically the entire story of the most unique coffee in the world and the answer to why is Kopi Luwak Coffee so expensive across the world.
But there is a thing that comes with all the inclusion of these animals into the business minds of the world we live in.
When done authentically – like the farmers in Indonesia and Philippines mostly do – it’s all fine and remains natural. But there comes a certain issue with the popularity of something – everyone wants it!
And when everyone wants it, everyone wants to produce it – by any means possible.
Due to this very thought process, many producers of the Kopi Luwak capture the little innocent animals and keep them in a cage. They feed them with what they think is the best group of coffee cherries and later wait for the entire process to take place. That in all of its senses is animal cruelty. And there is no doubt about it.
Many productions still do it and tourists gather around taking photographs of these little animals with innocent faces and confusion and fear in their eyes.
Keeping the taste, the story and everything else aside, is the Kopi Luwak Coffee worth it?
Tell me in the comments down below!
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That’s All Folks!