Why is Kopi Luwak so expensive?
The high price of kopi luwak coffee is largely due to the traditional ways it is produced. Production takes a lot of time and energy, with farmers often looking on land and in forests for suitable beans.
Ripe coffee berries are ingested by Asian palm civets, which are found in Southeast Asia. Farmers look for the partially digested beans left behind in the animal's droppings. Harvesting beans for kopi luwak coffee is traditionally done manually, with farmers usually looking for beans in the early morning. Generally, only five to six beans are found with each dropping. As you can imagine, the search takes a lot of time and effort as the process cannot be automated. Collecting enough coffee beans to produce kopi luwak coffee is certainly a labour of love!
Some luwak coffee is also produced on farms where civets (also known as luwaks) are kept in captivity. They are fed ripe coffee berries, although the beans inside are not completely digested. It takes a couple of days for the beans to go through the animal’s digestive system, where they ferment. This fermentation is what gives the beans added flavour. While this process is certainly less arduous than searching for droppings in the wild, it is still costly.
Once coffee beans are collected, the cleaning process is equally laborious. Since fecal contamination can result in food borne illness, cleaning the beans is demanding. Beans are generally washed by removing the outer shell first. Then, they are dried and washed a second time. The repeated washes ensure outer shells are removed and the beans are died after every wash.
Once washed, the beans are typically roasted to kill any bacteria that might still remain. They may also be ground by hand locally before being shipped to coffee lovers around the world. Each pound of the finished product can cost as much as £300.