As you’d expect the most expensive coffee would naturally come up for someone whose job requires finding the most high in demand coffee available. Kopi Luwak refers to the most expensive coffee in the world with just one cup costing anything between £30 to £70 with its prices reflecting demand dwarfing supply. The reason for its ridiculous price is due to the unique process the coffee cherries go through passing via the digestive system of a pal civet cat…..(in the most sarcastic voice)…..tasty!
Originating in Indonesia the term ‘Kopi’ means coffee and ‘Luwak’ is the local term for the palm civet cat, which eats the coffee cherries and digests them by breaking down the outer fruit of the cherry leaving only the coffee seed once defecated (pooped out). From here the process continues more conventionally with the shit beans washed and cleaned and prepped for roasting. It is said that the digestive enzymes of the civet enhance and restructure the protein within the coffee beans resulting in a smoother cup of coffee, which is more balanced between acidity and bitterness.
The disturbing truth
Kopi Luwak has been around for a while and what begun as a pest problem in Indonesia with civets raiding coffee farms has taken a dark turn not necessarily for us, but for the civets in question. Now a protected species in Indonesia due to their high demand and attraction from tourists they’re being farmed commercially and fed coffee cherries purely for economic benefit. Although standards restrict the use of cages it is too hard to establish whether Kopi Luwak is farmed or produced by wild civets and I have little faith in its enforcement with animal cruelty products still running a mock on supermarket shelves such as Foie Gras.
What pains me more is the idea that this is a novelty purchase for the super rich rather than a true reflection of good quality speciality coffee, which takes into account not just processes but the beans and final taste of coffee. There are plenty who deem this coffee poor to begin with using the more earthy coffee bean varietals found in Asia as opposed to the more favoured fruit, nut or chocolate notes found in African or American coffee.
To conclude, I urge anyone even remotely curious to think before you buy and avoid Kopi Luwak coffee. Along with being questionably good quality this is a coffee born from the stupidly curious with its demand remaining limited to the overly rich. Never have I thought the saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’ be so fitting…although maybe ‘curiosity caged, tortured and then killed the cat’ makes more sense. Ultimately this is a special coffee for all the wrong reasons and whichever way you look at it is shit coffee and Speciality coffee will always reign supreme!