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I tried a cup of the ‘most expensive coffee in the world’ — here’s why it’s a tourist trap you shouldn’t buy into


KopiLuwak3

Before visiting Bali, Indonesia, many people had told me that I had to try Kopi Luwak, a traditional Balinese coffee considered to be the most expensive coffee in the world.
Kopi Luwak is coffee made from beans that have been digested by a civet cat (i.e. “cat poop coffee”). Balinese farmers have touted for generations that this method produces the best-tasting coffee.
But lots of kopi luwak is produced by civets held in disturbing, inhumane conditions. And even when I tried it at one of the few coffee shops that keeps its civets in humane conditions, the coffee tasted bitter and overly earthy.

I’m the kind of person that likes to try everything. Live octopus in Korea? Check. Braised chicken feet at the dim sum hall in Hong Kong? Check. Chili-dusted, roasted grasshoppers in Mexico? Check.

Before I travel, I usually research which unique foods are revered by the culture I’m visiting. When I began researching for a trip to Bali, a gorgeous Indonesian island in Southeast Asia, I found that the most talked about local specialty was kopi luwak.

Kopi luwak is coffee made from coffee cherries that have been eaten, digested, and defecated by the Asian palm civet, a small mammal that looks like a cross between a cat and a raccoon. The beans are then cleaned and processed. In the West, kopi luwak has become known as “cat poop coffee.”

With prices ranging between $35 and $100 a cup, or about $100 to $600 a pound, kopi luwak is widely considered to be the most expensive coffee in the world.

Indonesian coffee producers have claimed for generations that the kopi luwak method produces the best tasting coffee in the world. There are a few reasons for that.

One, the civet is apparently a highly picky eater and will only eat the best, most ripe coffee cherries. Two, the animals’ digestive enzymes “change the structure of proteins in the coffee beans, which removes some of the acidity to make a smoother cup of coffee,” according to National Geographic. And three, digestion removes all the fruit pulp that sometimes gets left on the bean during processing.

But there are a few very big catches.

Increased demand for kopi luwak has changed the industry — for the worse

When, in decades past, kopi luwak was simply an Indonesian specialty, it was almost exclusively produced by wild civets. The animals would graze in the wilderness, picking the choicest cherries at their leisure, and coffee producers would hunt for the dung.

But ever since coffee expert Tony Wild introduced kopi luwak to the West in the early 1990s as the coffee director of Taylors of Harrogate, all that’s changed. There’s now a huge demand for the specialty coffee. It’s stocked at luxury retailers all over the world, production has expanded to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines, and, in Indonesia, it’s one of the biggest delicacies marketed to tourists.

As you can imagine, it’s not wild civets producing the kopi luwak …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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