The Secret of Kopi Luwak

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Kopi Luwak: the strangely concentrated indonesian coffee with a reputation for being the most expensive coffee in the world. However it’s not the coffee itself that makes a cup so rare. Like so much of nature, it’s the story from the forest floor that tempts us to pull out our wallets. Indeed a pound of coffee here at the plantation runs upwards of $160. A bargain compared to the price it fetches elsewhere in the world. Luckily $5 will buy you a cup of the fresh brew, and since polishing off next week’s budget seemed like an ill-conceived decision, the one cup bargain was our best bet.

Don’t ignore the cages with cute furry animals sleeping outside. No person on this plantation has worked quite as hard as he has to produce Kopi. The ferret-esque animal is the Luwak: a nocturnal creature who feasts daily on none other than fresh coffee berries.

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The brochure very kindly describes that the berry is digested by the Luwak and the beans then ‘ferment in their stomach before exiting through the digestive system’. I won’t go into anymore detail. You are smart enough to figure out what they’re really saying.

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Kopi Luwak is a strong cup of coffee. Compared to the coffee we’ve been being served on this trip, it is in fact the tastiest and strongest. But in a blind taste test, I don’t imagine anyone could pick this out for the price it is. Furthermore, judging by taste, no one could pick out the special intestinal fermentation journey the beans have been on. Kopi Luwak tastes simply like good coffee: no funny aftertaste, no redolent smell, no hint of previous digestion.

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