Meet Kopi Luwak, (more commonly known as a civet cat) a coffee connoisseur indigenous to Indonesia, India and the Philippines. This cat has somewhat of a penchant for coffee fruits. When they pass through its system, the remaining beans are picked out of its faeces and sold onto for quite a hefty price.
The superiority of this coffee is supposedly down to two factors. The first is that civet cats have a keen nose, picking out the fruits that have the best beans. The second, is that their stomach enzymes break down any residual bitterness, bringing out a more flavoursome bean.
I have done a bit of research over the net and have found very strong views on the stuff, both positive and negative.
Some people genuinely love the stuff, noting that it’s price tag reflects the quality and are more than prepared to pay top dollar for a good bag of the stuff (albeit quite a small bag). Others, appear to hate the beans, claiming that it is just a huge marketing scam and the beans are frequently of a lower quality than other specialty coffees, adding that often the methods of production are unethical.
However, despite of the presence of unethical producers, (like free range eggs in the egg industry) there are many producers who pride themselves on the fact that the cats, nor their lifestyle, are not tampered with in any way.
What hasn’t helped the industry and the reputation of Kopi Luwak has been the emergence of many imitators who flog off fakes for a high price. This has left people with pockets a lot lighter and also an unfair reputation of Kopi Luwak tasting average at best.
Personally, I have never tried the stuff and can’t decide who to believe. If you have, let me know whether you think it really is the shit or whether it’s just a pretender.
PS if you’re intrigued and want to try some, try Sea Island. They provided me with pictures for this article-sadly I couldn’t find any Kopi Luwaks in London to photograph myself