by Andy Khong
Have you heard of “Cat Shit Coffee”?
It is the nickname for “Kopi Luwak”. In the Indonesian language, “Kopi” is “coffee”, and “Luwak” is name for a “civet” (Asian Palm Civet). A civet is a small cat-like animal found in south-east Asia.
Kopi Luwak is a type of coffee made from the beans of coffee cherries that have been eaten and excreted by civets. The production of Kopi Luwak involves collecting, washing, drying, and then roasting the beans that have been excreted by the animal. The belief is that the digestive process of the civet improves the flavour of the coffee, as enzymes in the civet’s stomach break down the proteins in the coffee beans, resulting in a smoother, less bitter flavour.
While the name might suggest a foul taste, the actual taste of Kopi Luwak is more complex and subjective. The beans are thoroughly cleaned and roasted, before being ground and brewed like regular coffee. The flavour profile of Kopi Luwak can vary depending on the specific beans used, the roasting process, and other factors. Some people describe the taste as rich, smooth, and slightly chocolaty, with a hint of earthiness or mustiness. Others find the taste to be tasteless, flavourless, or underwhelming. Although we have to note that taste is subjective, and what one person perceives as a good flavour might not be the same for someone else.
The production of Kopi Luwak has been controversial, as some producers have been accused of keeping civets in captivity and force-feeding coffee cherries, leading to animal welfare concerns. It is important to research and purchase from reputable sources that prioritize ethical and sustainable practices.
Kopi Luwak is considered a delicacy, and one of the most expensive coffees in the world, with prices often exceeding US$200 per kilogram (2.2 pounds). It is usually available for purchase through specialty coffee retailers and on-line; and difficult to find in regular coffee shops or supermarkets. Many coffee experts argue that there are other high-quality, sustainably sourced coffees available that offer a similar or even better taste profile without the ethical issues and/or not worth the high price tag.
If you are ever in Bali (Indonesia), there are farms you could visit, and experience the original making process, going from collected fresh dung (shit!) to roasted beans, before sampling a cup of Kopi Luwak – as authentic as you can get… Cat Shit Coffee!