What is Kopi Luwak coffee?
Kopi luwak is one of the most, if not the most, expensive coffees in the world. Rather than a variety of coffee, this coffee is unique because of the processes used in its creation. Kopi Luwak is made from partially digested coffee beans that pass through the Asian palm civet, which are known locally as luwak. The beans are then harvested from the droppings of the civet.
The origin of kopi luwak coffee is rooted in the long history of coffee in Indonesia. Dutch colonialists founded plantations in the country where beans imported from Yemen were used. During the 19th century, farmers started to brew and drink coffee from beans found in droppings on their plantations. The first known instance of this was in central Java. Over time, beans were also collected from droppings found in forests.
Asian palm civets eat ripe coffee berries. They choose the ripest fruit and certain varieties, usually only arabica coffee beans. As this food passes through the animal’s intestines, they ferment and become less bitter. These biological and chemical processes in the animal’s digestive tract adds flavour to the coffee beans. The civet’s droppings are traditionally collected in the wild, although some farmers also have civets in captivity.
Kopi luwak originates from South East Asia, particularly on the Indonesian Islands of Sumatra, Bali, Java and Sulawesi as well as East Timor. It’s also produced in the Philippines, although the product is known by other names depending on the individual region. Kopi luwak is also produced in Thailand, Vietnam and Ethiopia.
Coffee beans are traditionally handpicked from the droppings. They are then washed and dried several times before being roasted. The laborious process of harvesting and processing the beans is generally why kopi luwak is so expensive.