The Tale of Kopi Luwak: The Cat-Poo Coffee
1 November 2023
If you’re a coffee enthusiast, chances are you’ve been asked this question: Have you heard about the coffee that is swallowed and then passed out the backside of a cat? Yes, you read that right. But how did this unconventional coffee, Kopi Luwak, come to be and what’s the story behind its peculiar origins?
A Journey Back to Indonesian Coffee Plantations
The tale of Kopi Luwak dates back to the Indonesian coffee plantations run by the Dutch colonisers. In these lush plantations, a particular feline, the Palm Civet, played an unexpected role. These cats would climb the coffee trees at night and eat the ripest, sweetest coffee cherries. Inside the cherries lay the coffee beans, covered by several protective layers and the cat’s digestive enzymes and acids would act on the beans. Then as nature would take its course, the cat would defecate them in the plantations.
Here’s where the story takes a twist. The Dutch plantation owners, in an effort to safeguard their precious coffee crops, declared that the only coffee the plantation workers could have was the coffee retrieved from the cat’s excretion. It’s ironic that some of the world’s most impoverished people were sipping on what is now considered one of the most expensive coffees globally.
From Nature’s Process to Commercialisation
Kopi Luwak gained worldwide recognition, partly due to its mention in the film “The Bucket List.” However, as the fame of this unique coffee spread, the process became corrupted. Palm Civets started to be confined in cages, much like battery hens, and were fed coffee beans. This alteration disrupted the authenticity of the coffee selection process, diluting its natural charm.
The Kopi Luwak Taste Test: Special or Overrated?
Now, the million-dollar question: how does Kopi Luwak actually taste? Having experienced it myself on three occasions, it’s tempting to say it tastes, well, like crap (excuse the pun). Only once did I find it tasted special enough to deserve some of the acclaim it receives – it was no better than any of the micro lots I have tasted recently.
So, there you have it – the fascinating, unique, and somewhat overrated journey of Kopi Luwak. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the cat-poo coffee question the next time it pops up!