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Civet coffee, also know as Kopi Luwak, is the most expensive and coveted gourmet coffee in the world. But it comes from a very unusual source, the droppings of Asian Palm Civets, a cat like animal native to Indonesia. The local name, Kopi Luwak, is effectively a local translation of Civet Coffee. "Kopi" is the Indonesian word for coffee and "Luwak" is local name for the Civet.
Civets feed on the raw, red coffee berries of the region but do not digest the inner bean of the berry, which instead are excreted. Locals then hand pick the partly digested coffee beans from the excrement and sell these onto dealers. There is no risk attached to the beans however, they are all washed, sterilised and roasted just like every other coffee bean.
The source of the beans doesn't seem to be deterring coffee lovers with Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee) selling for up to $1,300 per kilo, making it the most expensive coffee in the world according to Forbes Magazine.
Drinkers swear that it tastes like no other coffee in the world. In Queensland, Australia one small café is selling Civet Coffee for AUS $50 per cup and the price doesn't seem to deter anyone - locals and tourists alike line up to try it.
Only around 500 kg of Civet Coffee is produced each year making it very rare to find and difficult to order. Its not uncommon for suppliers to run out of stock. The Kopi Luwak that is produced is sold mainly in the US and Japan although it is slowly being found elsewhere.
Firebox is one of the few online retailers which sells civet coffee in the UK, the relevant page on their site can be found HERE.
Civet Coffee is described as having a rich chocolate like flavour with no aftertaste. This is thought to be due to the breakdown of the bean's proteins in the Covets intestine. These proteins being responsible for the bitterness of coffee generally.
An alternate theory is that the beans are of superior quality before they are even ingested. At any given point during a harvest only some coffee berries are perfeclty ripe. Some people claim that the civet has evolved to only forage for these ideal berries. As a result only the best coffee beans are excreted, resulting in the best civet coffee avaliable.