The Most Expensive Coffee in the World?

Coffee, Coffee Beans, Cafe, Roasted

For the past several decades a decadent coffee treat from Indonesia, called Kopi Luwak has been the rarest and therefore answers the question:  What is the most expensive coffee in the world?

Luwak Coffee

“luwak coffee” by inna dee, flickr (CC BY 2.0)

One can sense the uniqueness of Kopi Luwak even before tasting it. During brewing it smells smoky, not like burned beans but mellow like a camp fire. Then when tasted, that smokiness translates into a nutty, rich and earthy flavor unlike any other kind of coffee.

The experience of drinking authentic Kopi Luwak is such a luxury that some brilliant company (Harrods) put it in a pouch lined with 24 karat gold and that sells for upward of ten thousand dollars.

For the person who has it all, this is truly a gift fit for a king…or an eccentric millionaire.

What is Kopi Luwak?

The uniqueness of Kopi Luwak is in how it is harvested.

Manufacturers collect the beans from the excrement of wild animals called civets. Yes, you heard me right.

The prize coffee beans are in their poo.

Masked Palm Civet

“Masked Palm Civet” by Tony Hara, flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)2taking a long leisurely ride down the digestive tract of the Common Palm Civet, the beans are darker in appearance and more brittle than their undigested peers.

While in the digestive tract, the beans transform from the stomach acid and fermentation.

The proteins break down so Kopi Luwak coffee beans have less protein than undigested beans.

This gives it a smoother and less bitter flavor.

The Civet Scam

Kopi Luwak has a naturally limited curiosity. No Matter how many native people you put in the fields, carrying little pouches and collecting civet crap, you cannot meet the growing demand for the product.

This fact moved things in a natural progression and the time honored tradition of scamming the foolish.

The packaging leads you to believe that colorful natives foraging in the fields collect the dark ground gold inside the foil. However, the truth is far from that romantic notion.

However, today the Kopi Luwak you purchase online is more likely harvested from captive civets that live in appalling conditions. Also, they many are not even the right kind of civet. Only the common palm civet eats coffee cherries regularly.

Common palm civets are omnivores and need a varied diet to stay healthy. Many other civets are carnivores and would not eat coffee cherries in the wild, so while the strict diet of solely coffee cherries may increase production; it seriously affects the health of the animals. Today’s Kopi Luwak is an animal rights nightmare.

Spot the Expensive Fake

Common Palm Civet (toddy cat)

“Common palm civet (toddy cat)” by Marie Hale, flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Still, if you are interested in trying Kopi Luwak, there are other scams to consider, like is this really even civet poo that I am drinking?

Don’t worry, there’s an app for that… OK, not an app, but a nice scientific test.

Scientists have identified the unique chemical makeup of a civet gut digested coffee bean.

Yes, in the face of cancer and plagues ravaging the world, scientists have taken the time to develop a test to make sure that you are drinking authentic Civet doo-doo.

Poop: There it is…

Civet Poop Alternatives

If, on the other hand, it’s the experience of drinking a crappy cup of coffee that you seek, you can do so without worry that you are perpetuating the ill treatment of the civet. Other varieties of pooped coffee beans are making an entrance to the coffee scene.

One alternative to civet poop is the droppings of the incredibly rare uchunari. The uchunari is a long nosed native to the Peruvian Andes.  Its size and digestive abilities are comparable to that of the common palm civet.

This digestive talent isn’t limited to small rare animals, the newest candidate for the most offensive…err…expensive coffee is scavenged from elephant dung.

The great beasts that are responsible for this new culinary experience live on an Elephant sanctuary deep in the jungles of Thailand and as the mastermind behind the idea, Blake Dinkin, puts it “We operate in a transparent manner.  Vets inspect the elephants regularly to make sure they are well taken care of.  I’ve worked with food scientists, wildlife experts, picked the best sanctuary. It’s all on my own money.”

The Price tag may be staggering at $50 for a cup, but the price reflects the care and treatment of these pachyderms as they lumber away digesting and fermenting the culinary coffee curiosity.

It’s apparent that predigested coffee bean menu is only going to grow but civets may find that they can finally rest a little.

There is now an ever widening variety of living fermentation vessels giving their best efforts as baristas to create a very unique crap-accino to compete forthwith quest for what is the most expensive coffee in the world.

Takeaway: Most Expensive Coffee in the World

The key takeaway from all of this is to be very careful paying for very expensive coffee beans.  Especially if they are “supposedly” harvested by following some living creature around to scoop up their little bits of “gold”.

There are many out there that are trying to profit on the excrement of others!

If the the living host isn’t selecting the coffee beans on their own, they won’t be the “best”.

And, even if they are selected “properly”…


I’m not sure I really want to think about how they became the “best”!!

  2 Responses to “The Most Expensive Coffee in the World?”

  1. Who in the world were the first people to say “yeah, let’s brew that civit poop”!



  2. Alisha,

    When I first saw this, I had the same reaction. But, somehow this type of coffee stays popular.

    So, it must not taste or smell like you would think it would or people wouldn’t keep buying it.


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