A barista is an interesting profession very suitable for socially-minded people who like to talk, meet people, listen to stories and enjoy the memories of special “coffee moments.” One of these special memories is the story of a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee that a coffee patron shared with a barista friend.
The coffee patron was very specific in his order of genuine gourmet Sumatra Mandheling coffee. He sighed at the absence of Kopi Luwak on the coffee menu. Kopi Luwak is among the most expensive coffees in the world. For this reason, it is not something a coffee shop would feature for regular consumption.
However, the coffee patron said to the barista, “…you realize how delicious coffee really is when you taste a cup of genuine Kopi Luwak coffee as I did during my travels in Sumatra. It is a paradox to learn that a Paradoxurus or “Luwak,” basically a little mammal that goes unnoticed and is not very beautiful, produces “animal coffee” for which humans pay hundreds of dollars per pound! Sumatran locals call the little mammals “Luwak.” Paradoxurus is their scientific name more fitting for the high priced coffee droppings collected to make this marvelous coffee. These animals live in the trees in Sumatra. One of their favorite foods is red, ripe coffee cherries. Interestingly, they eat the cherries, bean, everything. Once the coffee cherries get to their stomach, the animal’s body produces enzymes and gastric juices that process the beans.
A scientist from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Doctor Massimo Marcone, ran scientific tests on Kopi Luwak coffee. This scientist proved that proteolytic enzymes penetrated into all the “Luwak” beans. This is what causes substantial breakdown of storage proteins and reduces the caffeine level in this special coffee. Apparently, these animal enzymes prevent bitter taste and caffeine jitters. The “Luwak’s” stomach is almost like a natural “coffee mill.” When the beans exit through the animal’s digestive system, the beans are still intact.
The animals move primarily at night. They creep along the branches of coffee trees. The animals sniff the coffee cherries and pick only the reddest and tastiest ones. They chew the exterior of the cherry but swallow the whole beans. Amazing to think there are Kopi Luwak farmers who follow these creatures through the Sumatran forests. The beans stay in the animals’ stomachs for about 36 hours before they come out. The farmers are familiar with the “Luwak” territory so they scour the grounds for animal droppings to collect. The farmers clean the beans thoroughly. Then they can roast the beans and grind them just like any other coffee. Funny to think that the origin designation for this coffee is “Kopi Luwak.” The price tag is a high one but worth every sip!…”
The barista nodded and the coffee patron continued. “…Aah! Kopi Luwak coffee: rich and strong aroma. Full bodied like no other coffee, almost “syrupy” and with a hint of chocolate taste. It is coffee that lingers on the tongue with hints of malt coffee. A shame the production is so low, only about 500 pounds per year. But you know, it is not the only fruit digested by an animal, excreted and then collected for human consumption as a pricey drink. There are others….”
The barista said, “Really, did not know that.” The coffee patron