If you are a purist, and you insist on grinding your own coffee beans using your coffee machine that costs beaucoup moola, then don’t waste time drinking all kinds of crap.
Drink the best.
Drink Kopi Luwak.
Did you watch The Bucket List? No? Then, I hope you know what I’m talking about here.
Anyway, have no fear, I am here.
To explain, that is.
I first tried Kopi Luwak when I was consulting for pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in Indonesia 20 years ago. Year before last I was reacquainted with the heady brew at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in Hong Kong.
Human hands don’t harvest the beans that make this rare brew. They’re plucked by the sharp claws and fangs of wild Southeast Asian palm civets – catlike beasts with bug eyes and weaselly noses that love their coffee fresh.
They move at night, creeping along the limbs of robusta and hybrid arabusta trees, sniffing out sweet red coffee cherries and selecting only the tastiest. After chewing off the fruity exterior, they swallow the hard innards.
In the animals’ stomachs, enzymes in the gastric juices massage the beans, smoothing off the harsh edges that make coffee bitter and produce caffeine jitters. Humans then separate the greenish-brown beans from the rest of the droppings, and once a thin outer layer is removed, they are ready for roasting. The result is a delicacy with a markup so steep it would make a drug dealer weep. A single cup can sell for US$50. Currently a pound (approximately 450gm) sells for at least US$200.
However, about half of all the kopi luwaks that are presently on sale are either adulterated or complete fakes, unfortunately.
Today, the world’s only source for genuine kopi luwak is Southeast Asian palm civets, and most still comes from the ones foraging in Indonesia’s coffee plantations. That limits production to a craving for coffee cherries, and the digestive abilities, of a shrinking civet population.
A pound of their droppings yields less than 5 ounces of beans. Roasting reduces the quantity by an additional 20%. With just 500 to 1,000 pounds of the real thing coming on the global market each year, demand quickly drives up the price.
A similar type of coffee is also found in the Philippines, where the product is called Kape Alamid and in East Timor, locally called Kafé Laku. Vietnam has a similar type of coffee, called Caphe Cut Chon (Chon or weasel coffee) processed from coffee berries regurgitated by local weasels.
Kopi Muncak (or Kopi Muntjak) is a similar type of coffee produced from the droppings of several species of barking deer, or Muntjac that are found throughout Southeast Asia.
In my opinion the best source for authentic, superlative premium quality Kopi Luwak is online, from a site operated by Troy Davis: