Who knew that the existence of the rarest coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak, depends on a cat? Well, okay a toddy cat, which is actually a palm civet or as it is know locally, a luwak. This highly prized coffee is found primarily in Indonesia and Sumatra where the wild luwak lives.
The luwak has the unusual inclination to dine on coffee berries, but only the sweetest of the sweet. After becoming a meal for the luwak, the red berries pass through the animal’s stomach and out the other charming end.
Enzymes in the toddy cat’s stomach break down the the coffee bean’s natural bitterness but not the bean itself. The intact beans are “harvested” from the scat, washed and roasted — and then sold for up to an astonishing $600 a pound! Less than a thousand pounds of this highly aromatic coffee make it out to the international markets each year. Thus, in Japan and the U.S. expect to pay up to a $100 a cup for this rare java that tastes like a warm swirl of caramel and chocolate.
If I find an extra $100 bill floating around, I just may have to try this exotic coffee. I am left, however, with the question of “why in the world did someone first think that roasted civet-pooped coffee berries would be such a gastronomical delight? Seriously.