By Greg Brenn
Kopi Luwak coffee, consumed by Jack Nicholson’s character in The Bucket List, holds the notoriety for being the most exotic and expensive coffee bean in the world. This coffee, famously known for its method of harvest, will be offered at a Messa House coffee tasting next Wednesday.
The coffee bean is harvested from the droppings of a cat-like animal known as a palm civet. At first glance, the idea of drinking a hand-picked waste product from the dung of a wild mammal sounds repulsive. However, the sordid, yet majestic, journey that these coffee beans endure contributes to the unique flavor and mystique of the beverage.
Nick Brenn ‘14, who is organizing the tasting explains the uniqueness of this experience. “Coffee aficionados around the world dream about tasting this coffee. Due to its yearly harvesting limit, it’s one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world. The beans will arrive within two days of being roasted, guaranteeing the freshest possible bean for brewing.
The Kopi Luwak coffee bean begins its journey on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra where the coffee bean, which is actually the seed of a cherry-like fruit, is grown. The palm civets eat only the ripest cherries off of the coffee trees, bean and all, as a main nutritional source.
The bean then undergoes fermentation processes, reacting with gastric juices inside the stomach of the civet, allowing the bean to be excreted and finally hand-collected by villagers for cleaning and roasting.
[pullquote]“Coffee aficionados around the world dream of tastingthis coffee.”Nick BrennClass of 2014[/pullquote]Inside the civet, the coffee bean’s proteins are broken down, which gives Kopi Luwak a milder and smoother taste with a smaller concentration of caffeine. Additionally, tests of Kopi Luwak have shown no pathogenic organisms associated with feces.
For the casual Union caffeine drinker who cannot taste the difference between the Aspretto coffee and a half-caff, half-fat, grande vanilla soy latte, this tasting may be too adventurous. Paul Etienne Coisne ‘12, however, is undeterred. “The fact that coffee enthusiasts laud the Kopi Luwak’s taste, makes me believe that the flavor must surpass that of regular coffee. I undoubtedly believe this coffee will stand up to its reputation, and I look forward to trying it!”
Ankur Shah ‘14 sounds slightly more hesitant. “I want to try this coffee because of its exotic nature; however, learning of its origins makes me cautious.”
For those who are reluctant to try the fecal byproduct that is Kopi Luwak, Billy the Barista of the Happy Cappucino located in downtown Schenectady, has offered to bring samples of other coffee blends. A light roast called the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a dark Sumatran roast, as well as a flavored Snickerdoodle blend will also be available for tasting. The Happy Cappucino will also teach those interested about various coffee brewing techniques, as well as the differences between coffees from around the world.
“So if you are bold enough, come to Messa House on March 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 and cross the Kopi Luwak coffee tasting off of your own bucket list!” said Brenn.