I should have known what kind of day it was going to be when during extended advisory the students began talking about coffee made out of poop. “What?!”
“That’s right,” BD shared with a glimmer in his eye. “Coffee made out of poop.”
After a multitude of squeals, grunts of disgust, and screwed up faces, BD told us this coffee is called Kopi Luwak and costs between $35 to $85 a cup in specialty coffee shops in Indonesia. Providing more detail than some of us were ready for, he continued to share that Asian palm civet cats eat the coffee berries for their pulp, which spend about a day and a half in the civet’s digestive tract. Afterwards, the civet poop, with embedded coffee beans, is collected. The beans are then washed and roasted.
Apparently in the 19th century, in the Dutch East Islands of colonialized Java and Sumatra, the native farmers and plantation workers were forbidden to use any coffee beans growing on the plantations for making coffee for themselves. At some point a worker discovered civet feces were chock full of coffee beans. The workers cleaned, roasted, and ground these beans to make coffee. And soon it became a delicacy.
The story goes that civets will only choose the pulpiest berries, hence it is inferred, the best beans. The exposure to the civet’s digestive juices alters the bean’s taste. However, some coffee aficionados claim that Kopi Luwak is not a delicious brew. They say it is not acidic enough and its flavor “thin,” though I know many people who would find that very appealing (including JB). Then again, coffee connoiseur Chris Rubin says that Kopi Luwak’s “aroma is rich and strong, and the coffee is incredibly full bodied, almost syrupy. It’s thick with a hint of chocolate, and lingers on the tongue with a long, clean aftertaste. It’s definitely one of the most interesting and unusual cups I’ve ever had.” I’ll bet it is.
Its popularity in Indonesia, most concede, is its story. And indeed, what a story it is. This morning, even without a cup of the Kopi Luwak in front of us, this story definitely kept us riveted. Or is that civeted?
Hmmm…I bet I know what Maxwell House would say about Kopi Luwak—It’s “good to the last dropping.”