What makes the most expensive coffee in the world cost USD 30 to USD 100? It is just coffee after all. The answer lies in the unique manner in which the coffee beans are produced and also the rarity of the product.
The coffee in question is Kopi Luwak which originates from Sulawesi, Sumatera and Java in Indonesia. What makes this coffee so special is that the coffee bean is made of beans that are emitted by a small sleek mammal called civet or Luwak (Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus).
The process of making Kopi Luwak is long and time consuming. The first step is taken care of by nature where a civet eats the ripest and juiciest of coffee berries and digests the outer part of the coffee berries. The indigestible inner parts of the berries are then emitted. These parts which can be found on forest grounds are collected by employees of coffee companies to be dried, pounded to separate the inner and outer layer of the bean and roasted. The coffee beans are than packed and sold around the world.
The Kopi Luwak can be Arabian or Robusta depending on which type the civet ate. Most plantations of these types of coffee trees are separated making the coffee bean type distinctive. However, some of these plantations are close together resulting in a blend of Arabic and Robusta which happens naturally in the stomach of the civet.
A study by scientists from University of Guelph suggests that the structure of a bean that comes out of the rear end of the civet is changed. The coffee beans that goes through the digestive system of this animal is found to be harder, more brittle and darker in colour compared to those processed in other ways. The beans are also found to be lower in protein which indicates that during digestion, protein in the bean is broken down and leeched out. Protein in coffee beans are the reason for the bitterness of coffee therefore, Kopi Luwak is less bitter than your average coffee.
The reaction to the taste of Kopi Luwak is mixed. Some says the taste is one of a kind and worth paying a high price for while others says that it is not that much different from normal coffee therefore not worth the price. Perhaps, it would be best to first try having the coffee to sate ones curiosity and later decide if it’s worth indulging in.