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What Is Luwak Coffee?

Through the years of coffee, none has received the amount of attention that the kopi luwak variety has. The beans are processed within the digestive tract of Asian palm Civets, these beans were previously believed to be the most expensive coffee in the world. Due to how scarce they are, how unique they’re processed and the flavor they are said to have, this heavenly taste of the world of coffee is sought-after by a multitude of curious drinkers for many years. Its popularity reached its peak in 2007, however, when the cult American film The Bucket List hit the screen. The protagonist of the hit film — a brash billionaire named Edward Cole and played by Jack Nicholson, who is a nerdy actor drinking the most sought-after coffee in the world. The coffee obviously it’s the kopi luwak, a glistening cup of coffee.

This wave of fame has passed, yet those in the coffee industry continue to have questions regarding these remarkable beans. What do you think of this particular coffee? Do you think it is really distinctive? What is the difference between it and other coffees? Is kopi luwak worth a try? If they’re of high-quality, all coffee beans can provide you with an experience that is truly unique and an experience that is full of flavors and aromas haven’t been able to experience yet. And kopi Luwak is no different. If you’re intrigued, then embark on a journey through the fascinating world of Kopi Luwak!

The story of Kopi Luwak: How Did it all begin?

Legend has it that sometime in the late 19th century Dutch colonists living in Indonesia demanded the farmers of Indonesia to give their coffee harvest to newcomers. If that weren’t enough they banned the poor Indonesians from collecting coffee berries for personal reasons. They were stripped of their favorite drink however, the smart locals quickly discovered a solution. While looking at palm civets – small native animals that are referred to as luwak by the locals–one day, farmers noticed they love munching on coffee berries, just as they enjoy eating tropical fruits and various insects. After consumption, the coffee berries were sucked out of their pulp by their digestive system of the palm civet and the seeds, also known as coffee beans, that were left behind were removed together with the waste matter from the faeces. The locals eventually decided to try something new by cleaning the berries, washing them, drying and roasting the beans. Imagine their excitement when they realized that the coffee they brewed was more delicious than the standard one! The resulting drink was more delicate and less bitter, characterized by a pleasant aftertaste. Rumours of this unique drink quickly reached Dutch colonists too. It was not long before copi luwak to spread its exotic appeal all over the globe.

Kopi Luwak Goes Hollywood

We’ve previously mentioned The Bucket List (2007) which was a film majorly responsible for many westerners re-discovering kopi luwak in the dawn in the 20th century. Let’s take a look at the impact it had on westerners will we?

It tells tale of two retired people who are terminally sick: Edward Cole, a billionaire in the corporate world who is played by Jack Nicholson, and an ordinary mechanic of the working class Carter Chambers played by Morgan Freeman. Although they appear to have nothing in common, the two characters are reunited within the same room in a hospital. Carter thinks about the limited time left, and finally decides to create an inventory of the adventures he’d love to be able to experience while alive. When Edward learns of the list, he offers Carter an offer that the mechanic cannot refuse the chance to escape the hospital, embark on a thrilling journey, and make all his wishes come true.

One of the opening scenes in the film we can see Edward Cole pouring himself a cup of kopi-luwak, proclaiming it is “the most rare beverage that exists”. The affluent connoisseur also carries the bag with an espresso syphon every time he travels: this allows him to enjoy incredible flavors at any time, wherever. Edward doesn’t know the source of his favorite drink from however. The origin story of kopi Luwak is eventually revealed to him by Carter:

Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee. However, for certain people, it is in one of the categories that are “too great to be real”. The Sumatran village in which they grow their beans is a trees that are wild. They eat beans to digest them, and afterwards… eliminate. The villagers sort and treat the stools. It is the mixture of the beans with the gastric juices from the cat in the tree that give the kopi luwak its distinctive flavour and scent.

After hearing this, the two friends are hysterical and laughing. Carter takes a breath to check off one item from his list of buckets. It says “Laugh until I cry.

With a picture like that it’s no wonder that kopi luwak quickly became a part of the bucket lists of many people across the globe. Attracted by the charisma of Nicholson and intrigued by the unique background story, coffee lovers from across the Western world were eager to embark to exciting experiences of their own.

The Flavor of Kopi Luwak

Each of these stories might make you think about a simple question whether this luwak coffee is truly distinctive? Perhaps its fame is simply an advertising ploy, or inspired by a hilarious scene in an Hollywood film? Are these beans different from other coffees ? Can genuine kopi luwaks be recognized just by its taste?

In the year 2004, Massimo Marcone, a food scientist in the University of Guelph (Canada) has made kopi luwak the subject of his study. The goal was to determine whether this coffee was different from other varieties by any means. Examining kopi luwak using an unaided eye did not show any notable variations and, therefore, Marcone took it one step further by using an extremely powerful microscope. Then he saw tiny cracks in the beans. Regular varieties weren’t even cracked and this is definitely something else.

After a thorough investigation after which the scientist realized that the cracks are caused by enzymes that were found inside the stomachs of palm Civets. The enzymes penetrated the outer shell of the bean, causing proteins to breakdown. Since these beans stayed for around 24-hours in the stomach of an octopus they began to sprout. Overall it is described as having a unique type of malting, that’s why we wouldn’t be far off if we were to refer to kopi luwak as the “malted coffee”.

Protein content present in your coffee is exactly what the bitterness of your coffee is based on: the higher amount of proteins present in the beans and the greater bitterness the flavor of the coffee is. Intense protein decomposition lends kopi luwak its delicate flavour. Other tests, like electronic odour analysis have confirmed that the tastes and aromas that are detected in these beans are different from those present in coffee that haven’t had its processing done by Asian palm Civets.

It is important to be aware of that the phrase “kopi Luwak” refers to a particular process, not the specific bean variety. The flavor of your kopi-luwak will depend on the other factors it comes across during the process, including the type of coffee used (arabica and robusta) as well as the conditions for harvesting as well as the selections that the roaster makes… The whole of which means that different varieties of kopi-luwaks could be distinguished by distinct quality. But the principle is that the higher the grade of the beans and the more meticulous, skilled their processing is, the more exceptional the final drink.

Are you unsure if this kind of coffee is safe to drink? The research conducted by Massimo Marcone has proved that it is. With careful cleansing and roasting all unwanted leftovers are eliminated from the beans, and the most desirable characteristics are retained and enhanced.

What is kopi luwak flavor as you ask? It’s rich, intense and especially thick, characterized by the scent of nuts and chocolate. There’s a hint of toasty caramel. When you’re done sipping it, a refreshing long-lasting, lasting aftertaste remains on your palate for quite long time. Doesn’t that sound appealing, does it not?