Arabica, Robusta, Liberica… to the average coffee drinker, these are all household names. But what about Kopi Luwak?
Hailing from the Indonesian Islands of Java and Sumatra, this luxurious coffee bean is unlike any other.
The main reason for its uniqueness is the fact that it comes from the digestive system of another animal, namely the Asian palm civet. But how did this come to be?
Let’s take a look at the origins of Kopi Luwak and explore a few more fun facts about the rarest and most expensive gourmet coffee in the world.
A few years before Kopi Luwak came to be, Dutch settlers began growing coffee on the afore-mentioned Indonesian archipelago in the 19th century. Due to the European ruling, the native farmers weren’t allowed to tamper with the Arabica crops. But locals soon noticed something peculiar – civet cats were eating the beans.
The next day, when the animal had digested the coffee cherries, they came out in almost the original state, albeit slightly fermented. In other words, the civet never fully digested the beans. Curious farmers improvised and began brewing said beans into their own coffee. As it turns out, the final product was even better than what the Dutch were farming.
Word quickly spread around the world and so became what we know today as Kopi Luwak.
Contrary to popular belief, Kopi Luwak (which in Indonesian translates to “civet coffee”) doesn’t refer to a specific type of coffee, but rather the process. The beans themselves are usually Arabica or Robusta.
So, how does this unique coffee taste? If you drank Kopi Luwak without knowing where it came from, you’d likely have no idea that they went through a mammal’s digestive system.
Kopi Luwak beans are said to have an oilier texture, with a pronounced and refined flavor. Some say that it even tastes like dark chocolate, but without as much of the bitterness that characterizes other coffees. That said, quality can vary, and with it, the taste – so it pays to get your cat poop coffee from a reputable supplier.
The taste and aroma of Kopi Luwak is said to come from proteolysis enzymes that seep into the beans when the civet digests them. This is what causes the reduction in bitterness. What’s also interesting is that the civet itself seeks out the ripest and juiciest fruits, which helps with improving the overall quality.
One of the reasons why Kopi Luwak is more expensive than other beans is the process of obtaining and cleaning them. If you’re worried about hygiene, you’ll be glad to know that this type of coffee undergoes a strict cleaning system that rids the beans of any contaminants. It’s estimated that only 22 thousand pounds of Kopi Luwak are made each year.
It’s not only the flavor and exclusivity that has made Kopi Luwak so popular; the unique bean is also said to have several health benefits. This includes a low acidity level that makes it less likely than other coffees to cause stomach problems. Moreover, it can slow down cognitive decline and reduce your risk of developing some cancers.
We all know how coffee can stain the teeth. An interesting benefit of Kopi Luwak is that it has antibacterial properties that can improve dental strength, thus lowering the amount of staining you might experience. There are more benefits to explore, including improved energy levels, fewer headaches, and reduced inflammation.
If you’re looking to buy Kopi Luwak, be sure to get it from a trusted company. Some producers have resorted to unethical ways of obtaining the rare coffee to cut down costs, so it pays to do your due diligence when shopping.