Skip to main content

Kopi Luwak coffee

Image result for civet cat
Coffee beans most recently produced by the civet cat.  (Image courtesy of The Guardian)

The most expensive coffee in the world is called Kopi Luwak, which comes from the island of Bali in Indonesia.  It retails at about $100 per pound of grounds.  It’s got a devoted following among those who swear the taste is distinct enough that the high price is worth it.  The flavor is attributed not to the trees where the Kopi Luwak is harvested, or the climate.  Credit goes to the Asian palm civet, also known as the civet cat (which is not actually a feline).  The civet cat processes coffee beans the only way a civet cat can: it eats them.  Well, they don’t eat the beans, per se, so much as they swallow them whole.  Then the beans are… excreted.  That’s as nicely as I can put it.

Yes, this is civet cat poop coffee, and people actually drink it.  The fans of Kopi Luwak insist that it tastes like nothing else, and that’s probably true.  Why is it different?  The reasoning is that the civet cats will select certain kinds of coffee beans in the first place, which leads to a particular selection that no human is probably capable of.  What no human is definitely capable of is the appropriate fermentation in the civet cat’s digestive tract, which perfects the flavor of the beans.  These partly-digested beans are then harvested and sold.  Harvesting can be tricky, since traipsing through Indonesian jungles isn’t the most efficient way to gather anything.  Most commonly, the civet cats are kept in cages and given coffee beans (as well as their natural diet of fruits and berries).  Some producers of Kopi Luwak keep the civet cats on reserves, letting them wander freely among the trees as they would in nature.  The appeal of this stems from the controversy over caging the animals and the force feeding of coffee beans in order to increase production.  This practice came to light in 2013, bringing attention to the high mortality rate in inflicts on the civet cats.

Civet cats aren’t a threatened species, due to their commercial value, but their wild populations are declining, since Kopi Luwak producers have incentive to capture them.  Civet cats are native to a wide swath of territory as far west as India and as far east as Borneo and the Philippines.  Demand for this gourmet coffee is leading to their introduction into islands farther east in Indonesia.

If you ever worry that you’re overpaying for your coffee, just think of Kopi Luwak and how much more you could pay!

Image result for civet cat
The Malayan civet cat: aficionado of fine coffee beans.


Popular posts from this blog

The Edge of Money

Most coins minted in the world today are round.  This is how it’s been for most of history.  But if you look at the edges of most coins of most countries today, you might have noticed they’re covered with even ridges.  The ridges don’t seem to add much to the aesthetic appeal of the coins, but they persist on every one of them.  But why are they there?
If you’ve noticed the ridges, you might have noticed that in the countries where they’re used, they don’t appear on every coin.  In the United States, the two lowest denominated coins—the penny and the nickel—don’t have ridges.  (The nickel’s five-cent predecessor, the half dime, which was minted until 1883, did have ridges.  The penny never did.)  This is no accident.  The ridges appear on the edges of the larger coins to prevent an ancient problem: shaving.
Coins have long been made of various metals like copper, nickel, tin, lead, iron and magnesium, to name a few, but the really valuable ones were traditionally made of silver or go…

Kick the Football, Charlie Brown

For nearly the entire run of Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip, one running gag has been the football gag.  The gag is simple: Lucy Van Pelt kneels down on the grass, holding a football in place, and tells Charlie Brown to kick it.  Charlie Brown gets a good running start, ready to give it a good, solid kick, but at the last minute, Lucy pulls it away.  The final panel usually has a miserable Charlie Brown laying on the ground while Lucy looks over him, holding the football, telling him in one way or another that he obviously shouldn't have trusted her.
The gag first appeared on November 14, 1951, when the strip was just over a year old.  In the first occurrence, the football was not held by Lucy but by Violet Gray, another little girl in Charlie Brown’s neighborhood.  (Violet would later become a minor character in the strip, and Lucy would become a major one.Lucy wouldn’t appear in the strip until the following year.)  The first football gag is quite a bit different from w…

Genesis I

The King James Bible was written in 1605, which means that there had previously been centuries of Bible writing and rewriting.  King James' version is one of the more famous, but it certainly wasn't the first, and it certainly wasn't the last.  There have been many others who have tried their hands at rewriting the Bible since then—telling the same story, only with different words.  Since the copyright has almost certainly lapsed by now, I figure I might as well take a crack at it.  Here's Genesis I.