Kopi Luwak Kicks the Bucket (List)
Close friends of ours traveling in Bali ran across some very exotic coffee and knowing what a coffee fanatic I am, bought a small sample for us to try. It turns out that Kopi Luwak as it is known in Indonesia is the most expensive coffee in the world! At $350/lb and up it’s way more expensive than Jamaican Blue Mountain ($60/lb) or Hawaiian Kona ($50/lb). Presumably it’s a bit cheaper in Bali but I didn’t want to be rude and ask how much they paid.
So what’s all the fuss and how can coffee beans possibly cost so much you ask? Well, in order to appreciate their value you need to know how traditional coffee is grown and brought to market. Coffee beans are actually seeds within the coffee cherries (fruit) that are harvested from the tree. The beans are then removed from the cherries, washed and dried at which time they are ready for roasting.
In the case of Kopi Luwak, the coffee cherries are harvested not by underpaid Indonesian farm workers but by small Indonesian nocturnal cat-like critters known as civits who enjoy feasting on the pulp. They are renowned to select only the ripest and choice coffee cherries. As their digestive systems break down the cherries, various enzymes act on the beans reportedly making them less acidic and more full-bodied. The beans are of course excreted and are then collected from the civit feces (by the underpaid Indonesian farm workers) where they are cleaned and prepared as traditional beans. $350/lb for shitty coffee…you can’t make this stuff up.
Coffee connoisseur Chris Rubin (no relation to our friend) explains why Kopi Luwak is so sought after:
The aroma is rich and strong, and the coffee is incredibly full bodied, almost syrupy. It’s thick with a hint of chocolate, and lingers on the tongue with a long, clean aftertaste. It’s definitely one of the most interesting and unusual cups I’ve ever had.
We received enough beans to make four cups and shared it with our friends to celebrate their return. The brew was in fact quite smooth and not the least bit bitter… but I’d be hard pressed to declare it the best tasting coffee I’ve ever had and certainly not worth the crazy price it demands. In any case, one more item scratched off the bucket list.