No matter how many adjectives synonymous with “premium” a manufacturer uses to describe their coffee, it will never come close to Kopi Luwak – the rarest and most valuable of them all. The main factor driving the exclusivity of this coffee is the interesting way that it’s produced. Understanding its name might give you an idea.
Kopi Luwak is an Indonesian term with the first word meaning coffee and the latter translating to civet, a small mammal native to tropical Asia and Africa. As you may have guessed, the cat-like animal is instrumental in the production of this unusual coffee. The following is everything you need to know about Kopi Luwak, including its history and health benefits.
So, what do civets have to do with Kopi Luwak beans? Well, there’s no polite way to put it: they’re picked from civet cat excrement. But worry not, as this is no cause for concern. After being obtained, the outer layer of the coffee bean is removed and the remaining product thoroughly cleaned prior to roasting.
It’s also worth noting that Kopi Luwak refers to this unique production process and not the bean itself. The type of coffee bean (which is actually a seed contained in a red or purple fruit referred to as a cherry) eaten by the civet can vary, but the most common are Arabica and Robusta.
History of Kopi Luwak
The story begins in Dutch-ruled 19th century Indonesia. At this time, the settlers were planting coffee on the islands of Java and Sumatra. They also planted pure Arabica crops in the Indonesian mountains, which the local farmers were forbidden from using. But the farmers noticed something – civets were eating the plants.
When the animals excreted them around 24 hours later, the Arabica beans came out undigested. The farmers improvised and made their coffee with those beans. Much to their surprise, the final product tasted even better than the original coffee. Word spread and so the legend of Kopi Luwak was born.
How it Tastes
What does Kupi Luwak taste like? It can depend on where you buy it, but the coffee is typically characterized by a complex flavor profile that is sweet and earthy. May drinkers describe it as smooth and often report a slight chocolate taste. While intensely aromatic, Kopi Luwak is less bitter than most coffees.
Coffee drinkers around the world prefer Kopi Luwak for more than just its unique flavor. It’s also associated with a large number of health benefits. For instance, the low acidity of this coffee means that it’s less likely to cause stomach issues. It can also protect against certain cancers, as well as reducing cognitive decline.
Moreover, Kopi Luwak possesses antibacterial properties that give it the ability to strengthen your teeth, thus minimizing the staining typically experienced with other coffees. Some other benefits include increased mood and energy levels, reduced headache pain and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Avoiding Imitation Kopi Luwak
Like any high-end product, Kopi Luwak is prone to imitation. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to discern the difference between real and fake beans. The legitimate coffee has a leafy smell, while fake ones tend to smell more like rice. In terms of color, real beans tend to be yellow-green as well as uniform in size.
Imitation Kopi Luwak typically has black spots, which are not found on genuine beans. The aroma is also more full-bodied and earthy with real Kopi Luwak, while lacking acidity. Of course, the easiest way to tell is the price tag. You really get what you pay for here.
Kopi Luwak is definitely an interesting coffee. If you’re keen on trying something new, it’s worth considering buying yourself some and brewing up this delicious beverage. You can also visit dripped.coffee to read more about coffee and its history.