How much do you love coffee?  Quite a bit, a lot or insanely?  Maybe you have said that you cannot live without your morning coffee to get you going each day, but do you love coffee so much that you are willing to pay 10 x the normal price?

Well if you want to know where the most expensive coffee comes from, read on, you might be surprised, and slightly repulsed.  Or you might be asking, where can I get some of that sweet cup of joe!

Where does the most expensive coffee come from?

African CivetA Civet is a small mammal found in Asia. It is small bodied and looks like a cross between a Raccoon and a Weasel. They are omnivores eating small vertebrates, insects, ripe fruits and seeds. Its common name is Musang, Toddy Cat from Genus Paradoxurus and species Hermaphroditus. Its common Indonesian name is Luwak. It is found from southern China and Himalayas to the Indonesian islands. It is adaptive and can live in agricultural areas, dense forests and even alongside human beings.

The civet weight is from about 1.4 to 4.5 kg and length of about 43 to 71 cm (excluding their tails). Their name originates from the musk they produce which is highly valued perfume stabilizing agent and as a fragrance. It is secreted by the animal’s perineal glands and harvested by either killing the animal or scraping it from the glands of a live animal.

The Civet Coffee has a great relationship with humans mainly from production of Kopi Luwak which is civet coffee which was discovered by the colonized Indonesians who were working in a plantation. These workers were forbidden from consuming coffee taken from the plants and so they picked up, cleaned then roasted the coffee beans which were excreted by palm civet which entered the plantation to eat the choicest ripe coffee cherries. The beans are hard and therefore cannot be digested in the animal’s digestive system.

luwak-pooh-expensive coffee

From their passage through the civet’s digestive tract, the coffee beans acquire a highly prized unique taste. The coffee beans producers argue that the process improve the coffee in two mechanisms, Selection and Digestion. The mechanism of digestion may improve the flavor of the beans. The Civet Coffee consumes the berries for their ‘fleshy pulp’ then in the tract fermentation occurs. The digestive proteolytic enzymes come into contact with the cherries breaking the longer polypeptide chains into shorter peptide chains and free amino acids. Selection method argues that the Civets choose the ripest berries and which contains better beans.

To make collection of the beans easier, farmers now choose intensive methods where the Civets coffee are caged and fed with the coffee berries. However, this method is not suitable for the best civet coffee due to poor diet, isolation, high mortality rate and small cages. Also, the civets are not able to select what they eat and therefore the beans are of poor quality as compared to the ones collected in the wild-a single Civet needs an average of 17 square kilometres of territory and it is almost impossible to build cages of such size.

So how much do they cost?

I hope you are sitting down, as the cost of these rare coffee beans is likely to knock you off your feet!  You can expect to pay upwards of £40 / $60 for half a pound of Kopi Luwak coffee beans.  Yep, you read that right the first time, they cost roughly 10 times as much as the normal coffee beans you buy at your local store.

Frequently Asked Questions

So you probably have a few questions about this unique coffee?  Hopefully the below answers to the most frequent questions we get, will help you get the best from your Luwak coffee.

Why is Kopi Luwak very expensive?

Not only does it have to be imported from the highlands of Indonesia but it’s also a very time consuming process. It is estimated only 1,000 to 1,500 lbs are produced worldwide annually creating a high demand.

How do I store my Kopi Luwak?

It’s recommended to store your roasted Kopi Luwak in a sealed container out of direct sunlight, heat, humidity, and oxygen. Do not grind until needed.

What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta?

Arabica is only grown in the highland elevation between 800 to 2000 meters in Sumatra Indonesia. Arabica requires subtropical climates, rich soil, shade and humidity.

Robusta are hardier plants capable of growing well at low altitudes of 200-800 meters in Sumatra Indonesia. Robusta is well known worldwide for its mass production.

What is a Luwak?

Luwak is the Indonesian name for a cat sized mammal native to South East Asia and South India. It’s most commonly known as an Asian Palm Civet.

Why does Kopi Luwak taste better than other coffees?

The Luwak animal individually selects only the ripest sweetest coffee berries available. Scientist Massimo Marcone did lab studies on the Kopi Luwak beans and found that a Luwak digestive system removes some of the caffeine and breaks down the proteins in the beans. The Luwak’s enzymes also reduce the bitterness in the coffee creating a smooth rich taste.

How many cups of coffee can I get from a 12 OZ.?

Usually you can get 11- 12 cups of coffee from a 12 oz bag. It may vary depending how you make your coffee.

How do you differentiate between real Luwak coffee beans and ordinary coffee beans?

Green bean:

  1. The luwak green bean fragrance has a pandan leaf smell, while fake beans smell more like rice.
  2. There is uniformity in green luwak coffee bean’s color (yellowish green) whilst the fake beans do not.
  3. No black spot in the bean structure and the shape is quite good.  Luwak’s only eat good beans, so the structure of the bean tends to be very good, with no black spots.

Cupping Taste:

  • Aftertaste cupping luwak coffee produces a rich, full in body, more like syrup coffee, and the aroma is very strong, stronger than ordinary coffee. (for a coffee drinker/ a not coffee addict, you should take comparison between ordinary coffee and luwak coffee, and you will taste the difference and aroma)