For those who follow me on twitter will know, it was recently my fiancé’s 30th. I spent a lot of time trying to work out what that one special 30th present would be. A lot of friends and family suggested an expensive bottle of champage, however he hates champagne (I know, I don’t understand it either…). However I came up with the next best thing, at least for a coffee lover anyway, Kopi Luwak.
After we had tried it, I decided it would make a great blog post. So please welcome Matt, as my resident coffee lover, he can describe it better than I could…
When talking about Kopi Luwak coffee, it’s wise to get the inescapable fact of its origin out in the open as soon as possible, so here goes: Kopi Luwak is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (a cat-like animal), somewhere in the Indonesian islands (south of China, and north of Australia).
This coffee is in short supply for export, and thus carries a premium price – in the UK it’s currently (June 2009) about £120 per kilo. Thus, you probably won’t be entirely replacing your regular blend with Kopi Luwak. I received a quarter-kilo sampler of the coffee (as beans; I grind my own coffee at home) as a 30th birthday present, and I’ve been drinking it every day for about a week now. A quarter-kilo of beans can be had for around £30, which is much more within reach as a treat for coffee-lovers.
The question everyone is probably afraid to ask is: does the flavour in any way remind you of the perhaps distasteful origins of the drink? The answer, of course, is no – there’s nothing unpleasant about this coffee, and in fact you won’t find the basic taste markedly different from a smooth medium coffee, such as one made with Ethiopian or Papua New Guinean beans.
The relatively mellow flavour is interesting, since Indonesian coffees in general tend to have a stronger and richer taste, similar to Colombian coffee, but Kopi Luwak is a notable exception. If you prefer smoother coffee but have previously shied away from Indonesian or Sumatran blends, you won’t have a problem with Kopi Luwak (and conversely, if your preferred taste is very strong/rich or acidic coffees, you may want to skip this one).
That’s all well and good, but what does the unique production process actually bring to the flavour? You’ll notice it moments after taking your first sip: this coffee has a practically undetectable aftertaste. There’s no bitterness or astringency in the throat; absolutely none whatsoever. If you find you have to ration your filter coffee intake because the aftertaste is unpleasant or because you get headaches (or that you like coffee-flavoured things but not coffee itself so much), Kopi Luwak may be extremely well-suited to you.
As with any quality filter coffee, enjoy Kopi Luwak hot but not kept-warm (the flavour will become increasingly burnt after more than about 5 minutes sitting on a warming plate), and of course without milk, sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Kopi Luwak coffee is certainly a unique experience, remarkably easy to drink, and I’d say it’s definitely worth the price of admission at least once. Just be sure your bank balance can cope if you do develop a taste for it.