A uniquely flavoured exotic coffee from Indonesia. The coffee beans are not collected in the usual way, but are instead recovered from the feces of the Indonesian arboreal civet cat (Paradoxorous hermaphroditus). Because of fermentation in the animal's gut and possibly contact with the musky oil it sprays from its behind to deter predators, the resulting coffee has a flavour which has been described as "earthy", heavy-bodied", and "musty". Presumably due to the difficulty of collecting these beans, Kopi Luwak apparently sells for $100-200/pound.

Noder's note: Fortunately, I imagine the average Everything reader cannot afford Kopi Luwak, and we thus are spared the dilemma of wheither to sample something (however tasty) that has passed through another mammal's gastrointestinal tract.

Other Interesting Facts About Kopi Luwak

The civet cat is not a cat: the civet cat is actually a small, tree-dwelling marsupial mammal* which, until recently, has long been regarded only as a pest because of the animal's pesky trait of only choosing to eat the ripest, reddest coffee cherries.

Famers were hedging their losses: one can only concluded that some poor farmer tried to "recover" their crop after a particularily hungry group of civets invaded their coffee plantation. Some brave (or more likely, unknowning) soul proclaimed this coffee as a tasty caffeinated beverage.

This stuff is rare and in-demand: Japan, (not suprisingly) is the world's largest consumer of Kopi Lowak. The U.S. is second, with American coffee importers buying up 110 of the estimated 500 lbs. harvested each year.

It is hard to find, but not impossible: M.P. Mountanos (800-229-1611) of Los Angeles, is the only known U.S. importer of this coffee. They distribute through Raven's Brew Coffee out of Ketchikan, Alaska (email: ravencup@ptialaska.net, phone: 800-91-RAVEN). The last one-pound bag of 2000's crop was aledgedly sold to John Cleese, for $75.

What this stuff is supposed to taste like: several people have reported that the un-roasted beans smell very much like a zoo or a stable. Roasted and brewed like American Coffee, Kopi Luwak is reported to have a heavy, syrup-like body and a very rich musty flavor with hints of chocolate.

Another food collected using a simular method: argan oil is collected from the feces of goats in Morocco. The goats are encouraged to climb an aragan bush to eat the almond shaped fruit, the fermented fruit is collected from the animal's feces and pressed into an oil which is used for everything from cooking to massage. It is highly prized as an aphrodisiac.

*: Ereneta has informed me that the Internet is wrong (gasp!) and that the civet is not a marsupial but a mammal.

There are many types of coffee, but the most expensive and perhaps most exotic type of coffee is said to be an urban myth. It is said, that in Indonesia, a certain Civet cat eats the ripest coffee cherries straight off the tree. Knowing that this civet* would only choose the cherries that were best to eat, some daring men decided to sift through the feces of the animal to gather the beans. These beans came to be known as Kopi Luak or Kopi Luwak.

The kopi is not the most common cat in Indonesia, and finding the feces of a rare animal is hard. Given their scarcity and the daunting task of collecting the precious beans, the prices are (as can be expected) high. These beans are the most expensive beans produced, selling up to the astonishing rate of $200 (US). Markets in Japan, Italy, and the US have sprung up, and kopi luwak is seen more than ever before. Before you run to your local kopi luak dealer, you must realize that in the present Kopi Luwak has become somewhat of a marketing scam. It is estimated that 1 single bean in 2 tons of 'Kopi Luwak' coffee beans is actually true Kopi Luak. The rest of the 2 tons are produced in the same way as any other type of coffee.

{*}Thanks to Gritchka for the correction that kopi means coffee.

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