According to ScienceDaily.com, Kopi Luwak, which is Indonesian for "civet coffee", comes from the excrement of an animal called the palm civet, a mammal native to Southeast Asia. Palm civets eat coffee berries, partially digest it, and excrete the bean. Workers harvest the coffee beans and clean them, ferment them, and roast them. The resulting product often fetches $150 to $200 a pound, which makes it tempting to sell ordinary coffee as Kopi Luwak or to mix it with cheap beans.
ScienceDaily.com reports that Eiichiro Fukusaki and colleagues decided to find a way to scientifically identify the real deal. The resulting study appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
"Extracts of 21 coffee beans (Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora) from three cultivation areas were analyzed and subjected to multivariate analyses, principal component analysis, and orthogonal projection to latent structures discriminant analysis," the study's abstract reads. "Citric acid, malic acid, and the inositol/pyroglutamic acid ratio were selected for further verification by evaluating their differentiating abilities against various commercial coffee products. The markers demonstrated potential application in the differentiation of original, fake Kopi Luwak, regular coffee, and coffee blend samples with 50 wt % Kopi Luwak content."
In other words, genuine Kopi Luwak has chemical markers that identify it as such. The test is so accurate that it can tell if Kopi Luwak has been mixed with cheaper coffee.
According to Wikipedia, Kopi Luwak originated in the 18th Century, when Dutch plantation owners planted coffee as a cash crop in Indonesia. Plantation workers wanted to try coffee, but the Dutch forbid it. The plantation workers soon discovered that the palm civet ate the beans and excreted them. So they gathered the beans, cleaned them, roasted them and ground them. The Dutch owners liked the aroma, and Kopi Luwak soon became their favorite coffee.
So how does it taste? According to The Washington Post, about as well as you'd expect.
"I was dumbfounded," writes the Post's.Tim Carman. "I had not tasted something like this since college, back when each cup of coffee was still a thrill, not a tool to stimulate the senses in the morning. ... It tasted just like...Folgers. Stale. Lifeless. Petrified dinosaur droppings steeped in bathtub water. I couldn’t finish it. ... A cup of coffee as flavorless as wet cardboard."
Carman was so disgusted he didn't believe he got the real thing. But his assessment is not unique. According to Wikipedia, "The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) states that there is a 'general consensus within the industry ... it just tastes bad'."
According to Wikipedia, Kopi Luwak is mentioned in The Bucket List. It has also been featured on Pawn Stars and Franklin and Bash
Image Source: Wikipedia..