What is Kopi Luwak? World’s Most Expensive Coffee

So what is Kopi Luwak? The legend is that Kopi Luwak was discovered in Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule. Native farmers and plantation workers were forbidden from harvesting coffee for themselves to drink.

So when there’s a will there’s a way… They scrounged the ground for coffee beans.

Kopi Luwak is not a type of coffee bean, but a method of producing the best tasting coffee.

It was then discovered that the Luwak – Civet cat, or Indonesian palm civet, would eat coffee cherries and pass the coffee beans without digesting them. Upon drinking the coffee brewed from these beans, they discovered it was much tastier than the regular coffee of the time.

This is what is kopi luwak. A Civet cat  standing on top of Kopi Luwak Coffee.

The main reason why Kopi Luwak is so expensive is because of its uncommon method of production. The Palm Civet has to eat and digest the coffee cherries then excrete the beans out. This process takes a long time and cannot be commercialized as easily as other processes.

Due to the popularity of Kopi Luwak several plantations raise palm civets to produce this coffee. We considered this inhumane and results in inferior coffee beans and productions. The best Kopi Luwak comes from healthy Luwak with healthy digestive enzymes.

Why is Kopi Luwak Better Than Normal Coffee?

There are two main reasons why Kopi Luwak or “Civet Coffee” would taste better than normal coffee. These two reasons are selective picking of coffee cherries by the civet cats and the thorough cleaning of the coffee bean.

Naturally, when the civets choose their meals they go for the ripest, plump cherries. This is only true when the civets are allowed to roam free and choose what cherries to eat. This is why we stress the importance of free roam and healthy luwaks to purchase the coffee beans from and not an unethical farm. Coffee pickers nowadays are much less discriminating with the beans picked. Once harvest season approaches farmers will pick every and all bean to be processed into coffee.

The beans will also be “cleaned” while going through the civet cat’s digestive system. All the enzymes inside the digestive tract strip the fruit from the beans and leave a clean bean as a result. This leaves less fruit pulp or mucilage on the beans after processing and prevents fermentation and mold. There is also a special enzyme inside the civet’s digestive system that kick-starts a special enzymatic process. Their stomach acids interact with the coffee beans and reduce the acidity of the coffee bean and result in a much smoother and aromatic coffee.

The problem we have today is most of the Kopi Luwak on the market today are fakes. Most times it hasn’t even been through a civet cat.

an infographic about how the Kopi Luwak is made and passed through the civet cat.

Is It Safe To Drink?

In short, Yes Kopi Luwak is safe to drink. All coffee beans sold nowadays have to go through a thorough cleaning process before it can be legally sold. All Kopi Luwak will be thoroughly cleaned and roasted at a high temperature of at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures that all Kopi Luwak on the market today is safe to drink.

A University of Guelph, Ontario Study by Massimo Marcone states, Kopi Luwak has fewer bacteria than regular coffee. One of his quotes is:

“As a food scientist, I’m skeptical that anything being in contact with feces is safe, … But tests revealed that Kopi Luwak beans had negligible amounts of enteric (pathogenic) organisms associated with feces.”

Massimo Marcone

Much like how cheese a lot of cheese is moldy, but still safe to eat. Kopi Luwak is civet poop coffee that is still safe to drink. Lots of foods sound disgusting and are not just still safe to eat, but delicious.

Fully processed Kopi Luwak coffee ready for roasting and grinding.

What does Kopi Luwak Taste Like?

The taste of this heavenly coffee varies from farm to farm and if made correctly is very rare. To get the genuine and authentic flavor of the Kopi Luwak coffee it is best to find a farm that offers single-source or roasts their own coffee. You would want the roast just at the second ‘crack’ of the coffee bean.

These are the two ways of brewing Kopi Luwak I enjoy the most. As an espresso and in a press. Make sure your coffee is coarsely ground, and use hot clean water for 4 minutes to brew. Make sure to drink the coffee immediately with a clean palette to get the full experience and taste. You will enjoy it best when you are not thirsty, hungry, and there is nothing affecting your taste buds.

For the taste, there are many debates whether the enzymes within the civet affect the taste at all. In our experience at Coffee Informer, we are confident that it does if you choose the right beans. It will taste of good Arabica coffee with subtle nutty and caramel hints but without any of the acidity. All the good and desirable flavors of the bean will be more pronounced and this is probably because of the selection process the civet cats go through to find the best beans to consume.

Ethics Regarding Kopi Luwak – How The Industry Has Changed.

In the past, before the mainstream media picked up Kopi Luwak and glorified cat poop coffee it was simply a niche Indonesian specialty. Previously, it was exclusively produced by wild civets. Animals would naturally graze and choose the best coffee cherries to consume. The Kopi Luwak would just be a side product that we could enjoy.

Ever since coffee “experts” like Tony Wild introduced Kopi Luwak to the world everything has changed. Hipsters have created a huge demand for specialty coffees and because of the increased demand supply had to increase as well. Simple economics.

The problem arises when the production of Kopi Luwak has expanded to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. These are locations where wild civets are not naturally producing the cat poop coffee. The vast majority of these cats are captured and put in cages in giant plantations to be force-fed coffee cherries and exploited for profit.

Civets suffer from being confined in cages and suffer stress when living in close proximity to each other.

Depressed Caged Civet cat being force fed coffee cherries to make Kopi Luwak.

The exploitation of the civet cat has led to the backlash with animal welfare organizations such as PETA. They encourage people to only purchase Kopi Luwak from wild civets, but it is becoming increasingly hard to differentiate between wild and farmed products. Often Kopi Luwak is advertised as being “wild-sourced,” but it would be impossible to differentiate between farmed and wild coffee. According to PETA, an investigator was served a sample of coffee bearing a fake label, and farmers “didn’t have a problem” with putting a fake label on coffee from caged civets.

Trying Kopi Luwak.

Now after reading this whole article, if you still want to try Kopi Luwak we will recommend a brand from Amazon that everyone at Coffee Informer loves. This is an authentic Kopi Luwak coffee from wild civet cats. They support the WWF (World Wildlife Federation) and would never harm or exploit an animal for the production of coffee.

We have tried this coffee and can confirm it has an especially smooth, rich taste. The acidity and bitterness of the coffee have been removed by the civet’s digestive enzymes and what is left is a beautiful coffee that is smooth, earthy, and nutty.

This is definitely a coffee that you would want to treat yourself with and is a one-of-a-kind coffee experience.

A can of the world's best and most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak. Black exotic can from the brand Granell.

The reason why we chose this coffee over every other brand of Kopi Luwak coffee is that this is 100% genuine wild Kopi Luwak beans and is sourced from plantations in Sumatra. We confirmed that the Wild Asian Palm Civets roam freely and are treated humanely. It comes in a 100-gram canister or 3.5 ounces and the container keeps the coffee fresh and aromatic. I have gifted this coffee myself and am extremely satisfied with the gift. The look and feel of the container make it the perfect gift for the coffee connoisseur in your life.

The Best Way To Brew Kopi Luwak Coffee.

There are endless ways to enjoy your Kopi Luwak Coffee. In this section, we will focus on the fine-tuning and the brewing formula that will get you the most flavor from your Kopi Luwak coffee.

Our formula for the perfect Kopi Luwak coffee is very simple. For every tablespoon of coffee, we add three ounces of water. Slight adjustments may be needed for your taste and batch of coffee.

Although any temperature will make coffee if, in contact with the beans, the best temperature will be heated to 200 degrees, plus or minus a few. Water heated too how will extract more bitter flavors, but water not heated enough will be less efficient in extracting the flavors of the coffee.

Time is also very important to the brew of the coffee. The longer the grounds are exposed to the water the more flavor is extracted. The less time they are exposed, the less flavor you get. The average time varies by how you ground your coffee, but our standard is four to six minutes for a drip ground, and up to eight minutes for course ground.

Perfect Cup of Coffee using Chemex Pour Over and Manual Drip Coffee Maker

Brand new chemex 10 cup coffee maker and the box it comes in.

To make the perfect cup of drip or pour over Kopi Luwak coffee in a 10 cup Chemex coffee maker you have to get the perfect water temperate and pouring technique. The water passes through the coffee and extracts all the flavor and oils from the grounds.

Drip brewing requires a balance of grind fineness, batch size, and temperature to perfectly drench the coffee for the exact amount of time.

  • Boil water using a water kettle on high heat to ~ 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Prepare your beans for drip coffee by grinding them to medium to medium-fine
  • Place included Chemex drip coffee filter in the channel on the brewer
  • Weigh and add grounds to the filter. About 2 tablespoons for every 6 ounces of water
  • Remove boiling water from the heat and if it is in roaring boil let it rest for about 1 minute to reach ~ 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Slowly pour water over the grounds in a circular motion.
  • If the Kopi Luwak beans foam up it is releasing carbon dioxide and will settle down shortly. For better flavor allow this to happen before adding more water
  • Repeat until your perfect cup of coffee is brewed
  • Enjoy your perfect cup of drip Kopi Luwak Coffee!

Perfect Cup of Coffee Using French Press Coffee Maker

Freshly brewed Kopi Luwak coffee in a Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker

Unlike using a pour-over coffee maker the french press works by allowing the coffee beans to mix and steep in water. This causes a different kind of flavor extraction and creates a unique flavor only found using a french press.

The french press mixes the coffee beans and the water together. You will want to coarsely grind your beans so there is not over-extraction of the bean and so there is not any sediment leftover in the coffee form the brewing process.

  • Boil water using any kind of boiler to ~ 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grind about 2 tablespoons of whole coffee coarsely for every 6 ounces of water
  • Preheat your french press coffee pot by pouring hot water into the pot
  • Swirl around the water and discard the hot water
  • Add your coarsely ground coffee into the empty pot
  • Pour half of your hot water over the coffee grounds and wait for the foam to dissipate
  • Pour the remaining hot water into the pot
  • Set a timer for 4 minutes
  • After 4 minutes slowly press the plunger down all the way
  • Pour the coffee slowly to keep sediment from flowing out into your coffee
  • Enjoy the perfect cup of french press Kopi Luwak coffee!

Conclusion

Now you know everything there is about Kopi Luwak coffee. You know what it is, how its made, the best brand, and how to brew the perfect cup. I hope this is a resource and helps you make your decision whether you want to try Kopi Luwak coffee. If you are interested in other specialty coffees go check out our article about bulletproof coffee!

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