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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

 

Kopi Luwak

`Coffee grows in dozens of countries around the world. Some varieties have earned a special reputation, often based on a combination of rarity, unusual circumstances and particularly good flavor. These coffees, from Jamaican Blue Mountain to Kona to Tanzanian Peaberry, command a premium price. But perhaps no coffee in the world is in such short supply, has such unique flavors and an, um, interesting background as Kopi Luwak. And no coffee even comes close in price: Kopi Luwak sells for $75 per quarter pound. Granted, that’s substantially less than marijuana, but it’s still unimaginably high for coffee. [..]

On these Indonesian islands, there’s a small marsupial called the paradoxurus, a tree-dwelling animal that is part of the sibet family. Long regarded by the natives as pests, they climb among the coffee trees eating only the ripest, reddest coffee cherries. Who knows who first thought of it, or how or why, but what these animals eat they must also digest and eventually excrete. Some brazen or desparate — or simply lazy — local gathered the beans, which come through the digestion process fairly intact, still wrapped in layers of the cherries’ mucilage. The enzymes in the animals’ stomachs, though, appear to add something unique to the coffee’s flavor through fermentation.’




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