Would you believe me if I told you I have spent $16 on a cup of coffee made from coffee beans excreted by a weasel?
In the matter of fact I have…. twice.
Once in the labyrinth of Jiufin in Taiwan, once at an actual luwak coffee farm in Bali.
Kopi Luwak dates back to Dutch Colonialism of the East Indies in the 18th century. The Dutch brought over Arabica coffee to grow on plantations as a cash crop, but forbid the locals from having it. The workers noticed that the Asian civet (a small nocturnal weasel-like cat also known as a luwak), would eat the coffee cherries, then excrete them back out. A light bulb when off, and they snatched up the droppings, cleaned the beans, and voila, a good old cup of Joe! In fact, they discovered that this poop coffee was actually better, with a smoother taste and richer flavor.
While some may claim the flavor comes from the fact the civets go after the best berries, modern science has discovered that the smooth taste is a result of a fermentation process in the civet’s gut. Digestive enzymes react with the coffee cherry to break down proteins and shake around some amino acids, which takes out the bitterness which makes the unique flavor.
Today, civet’s are farmed specifically for this reason (let’s save the animal right’s issues for another day), and the long, labor intensive procedure of sifting through the poop and roasting the beans is why a bag of kopi luwak can set you back anywhere from $100-$400 a pound.
I can practically hear your burning question… “but is it worth it?”
While kopi luwak is undeniably smooth and the novelty of it is fun, I can’t say that the taste warrants the price, as it isn’t overwhelmingly different. If you handed me a nice hot cup of poo coffee without telling me what it was, I’d give a shrug saying, “yeah it’s fine I guess.”
Luwak coffee is fairly common in Asia, but you can find it in NYC at niche coffee shops for upwards of $30 a pop.
Would I recommend paying $30? Not a chance! But if you find it for a more reasonable price, give it a shot.
Think this is a strange eat? Check out The 4 Strangest Things I have Ever Eaten!