How would coffee connoisseurs distinguish the best in the world? Which would fare better? Price or taste? While coffee enthusiasts have various criteria when it comes to taste, price would be an easier measure since the most expensive coffee cost about US$300-US$600 per pound. If you watched the 2007 film “The Bucket List,” you know what coffee beans I am talking about – it’s the coffee beans that Jack Nicholson’s character was munching on.
Kopi Luwak is not only considered the most expensive coffee in the world, but also the strangest. These are coffee berries defecated by the Asian Palm Civet, a jungle cat native to countries such as Indonesia (known as Luwak), the Philippines (known as Alamid or Musang), and East Timor (known as Laku). The luwak’s normal diet consists of insects, small mammals and reptiles, nestling of birds, fruits, and coffee berries. However, the luwak only ingests the ripe coffee berries in the forest. This is the premise that surrounds the reputation of Kopi Luwak. The luwak only chooses superior beans which cannot be surpassed by the normal harvest of coffee where some are not quite ripe or some are overripe. The outer flesh is digested while the inner bean remains intact and defecated. These are collected and washed before being roasted lightly. According to experts, the enzymes in the luwak’s digestive tract somehow penetrate the beans and add flavor as it breaks down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste.
No matter how I describe it, simply put, the most expensive coffee in the world is animal feces. The price of this gourmet coffee is attributed to its rarity since only 1,000 pounds are available in the market per year. Though initially available only in the US and Japan, some coffee shops in London and Australia serve it at a price ranging between US$33-US$100 per cup. Another serious question though would be the taste. Does it live up to its price? Since very few have had the luxury, it took me a while to find a credible description. According to Chris Rubin of TheCoffeeCritic.com — “The aroma was rich and strong, and the coffee was incredibly full bodied, almost syrupy. It was thick, with a hint of chocolate, and lingered on the tongue with a long, clean aftertaste.” He does end by saying that it was one of the best cups he has ever had, but he’d rather invest in precious metals before buying it by the pound. Care to brave a cup of this?