Also known as the “Miracle Drug”, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. The best beans are found in Latin American countries like Brazil and Colombia. Yet a unique type of coffee transcends your average morning cup: The Indonesian Kopi Luwak, which is extracted from the feces of the cat-like creature, the Asian Palm Civet.
What may sound like an unappealing drink happens to be the most expensive coffee in Indonesia — if not the world — with a cost of 50,000 Rupiah per cup in Indonesia, and $35-$100 per cup in other countries.
The best Luwak coffee is one that is made from wild Palm Civet droppings that are collected by farmers directly from plantation grounds.
Palm Civet farms, where large numbers of Civets are caged and fed coffee cherries for mass production have increased in number. However, this method produces lower-quality coffee. This is because a wild roaming Civet has the ability to select the best and ripest coffee cherries.
During the digesting process, the flesh of the coffee cherries is removed; however, the coffee seeds or beans are left undigested. The beans are then excreted — almost unaffected — by the animal 25-36 hours after ingestion.
After collecting the feces, farmers separate the coffee beans, wash and dry them in the sun. Once the beans are dry enough to remove the outer skin, they are placed into a wooden mortar and pounded with a pestle. After the skin breaks apart in the pounding process, the beans are sorted by hand, where damaged beans are disposed of. The remaining Kopi Luwak beans are then roasted for use.
Research on Kopi Luwak showed that there are natural enzymes produced in the digestion process, which reduce the level of caffeine and protein in the coffee, adding to the intense aroma and the smooth non-bitter taste which it’s renowned for.
The rare coffee has colonial origins. In the 19th century, when Indonesia was a Dutch colony, it was illegal to sell coffee beans to the local Indonesian population, because all the coffee beans were exported to Europe. To adapt to this restriction, the locals collected the feces of wild Palm Civets because the coffee seeds inside of their feces were left undigested.