Yes, you read that right, the world’s most expensive coffee is made from poo. Kopi Luwak, also known as civet coffee or cat poo coffee, is made from coffee beans that are partially digested and then pooped out by the civet, a catlike creature.
Traditionally from Indonesia, Kopi Luwak uses a highly unusual process that has made it one of the most talked-about coffees in history.
Asian palm civets are small nocturnal animals that are mainly frugivores, their diets consisting mostly of fruit including coffee cherries.
To explain more, we called on coffee expert at Coffee-Direct.co.uk Lewis Spencer to run down on why this coffee is controversial yet popular.
1) Why is Kopi Luwak so expensive?
The main reason why civet coffee has a high price tag is due to the way the beans are produced and the role of the civet. The civets pick, eat, partially digest and excrete the cherries to make this bean.
The coffee is often considered the most luxurious coffee in the world.With regular coffee, cherries are hand or machine picked, then processed by producers.
Either natural, washed or hybrid methods are used to separate coffee beans from their flesh. Beans are then dried, rested and roasted. So, the difference in methods really sets this coffee apart from others.
2) What does it taste like?
The flavour of Kopi Luwak is mainly described as earthy with hints of caramel and even chocolate. To remark on the taste sensation, it has often been labelled a ‘jungle’ of flavours.
The taste does vary depending on factors such as tree variety, soil type and seasonal fruit eaten by the civets.Each batch is unique in flavour due to the civet process of ingestion, digestion and defecation.
The civet eats the most mature fruits which translates into the quality of the cup. The fruit undergoes a fermentation process during the animal’s digestion where some of the protein in the bean is broken down by the enzymes.
Protein is the enzyme that gives coffee a bitter flavour so Kopi Luwak is smooth with no unpleasant aftertaste.
3) How do you brew it?
Kopi Luwak creates a robust and aromatic coffee with delicate flavours, making it a great choice for a range of brewing methods.
The grind size of your ground civet coffee will vary depending on the method – but ensure you get this right to avoid over-extracted or under-extracted coffee. As a rule, a French press needs a medium-coarse grind and filter coffee grounds should be super fine.
It is also important to get your ratios of coffee grounds and water right, as this can make all the difference for a high-quality brew.
4) Is there a safer method for the civets?
Unfortunately, the rising popularity of Kopi Luwak has meant that civets are being removed from the wild and held in captivity on plantations to produce more civet coffee. But there are much safer alternatives to produce the coffee.
We are fundamentally opposed to cruelty against animals (keeping wild civet cats’ captive). As such, the Kopi Luwak we sell at Coffee Direct is imported from natural, non-farmed sources in Sumatra.
5) How much does it cost?
Coffee fans can pay up to £80 for a single cup of Kopi Luwak! This price can increase to as much as £1,000 per pound of coffee if you choose the most expensive wild Kopi Luwak sources.