Behind the Beans

Kopi Luwak: The most expensive coffee in the world

By Eddie Keller

“How much!?” is probably one of the most common phrases you will hear whilst queuing up at your local coffee shop.

Of course nine times out of ten the beverage in question will only be costing a measly £1 more than your usual coffee, but it all adds up right? Imagine then if the coffee you were buying was priced at an eye watering £75!

Well, that is the price you would have to pay to purchase a cup of the worlds most expensive coffee. And if you think that is crazy, you’ll want to spit out your cuppa right now when you find out how it is made.

The name of the coffee is Kopi Luwak, produced in the jungles of Indonesia, the way it is made is quite unusual. Instead of the usual process of picking the bean straight from a plant, the beans themselves need to go through a certain other process before they are ready to be roasted and consumed. The beans need to be eaten by an Indonesian Cat like animal called the Civet Cat, wait for them to be digested and 24 hours later are collected as faeces.

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The animal responsible, the Civet Cat. Credit: Paul Williams

 

That’s right ladies and gentleman, the worlds most expensive coffee is essentially roasted cat poop.  It begins its life like any other coffee type, on a coffee tree. The exception is they don’t actually grow as beans, but instead as seeds and this is where the civet cat becomes important in the production process.

The cats then eat the seeds, as they are digested a fermentation process which is what is said to give the coffee its unique and special flavour. Enzymes inside of the civet cat remove a certain amount of caffeine and also ensure the coffee is not too acidic, this in all is how the coffee gets its high aroma and smooth taste.

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Kopi Luwak beans in their final form. Credit: Sarah Ackerman

 

24-36 hours after they are consumed, the seeds are then …ahem… pooped out and collected by farmers, in South East Asia these are considered gold dust to the them and are sold all over the globe.

Once collected, they are separated from the faeces, washed, dried in the sun ready to be roasted. Great care is taken in this part of the production as the beans are hand sorted to remove any that are damaged. Now, you may well be asking; “How is drinking coffee made from faeces sanitary”. Well yes, the beans do contain more bacteria then regular coffee beans, however processed Kopi Luwak is actually known to have less bacteria than normal beans!

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From Cat to Cup. Credit: Sarah Ackerman

So, there you have it. The unique story of the worlds most expensive coffee, created by plants, produced by cat faeces, prepared by humans.

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