Bunk Strutts has written up about kopi luwak, which is regarded as the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world. I thought I would comment on it, since I have read a fair bit about it.
First of all, when I first heard about asian palm civets, they were referred to as “civet cats”. But “civet cats” have been used to refer to almost any odd-looking small furry animal, ranging from raccoons to actual cats. The asian palm civet is related to the mongoose.
The asian palm civet lives in the islands of Indonesia, and they eat the coffee berries, which passes through their digestive tract only partially digested. These partially digested coffee beans are what is used to make kopi luwak, the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee.
I first read about kopi luwak a few years ago from a science journal (a brief article by Dr. Massimo Marcone of Guelph U), and from then I was hooked on the idea. I just found the idea fascinating that the “dump” of a mongoose is so sought after as a high-class delicacy.
What could you do with kopi luwak beans with an off-flavour? If you covered them in chocolate, it would make the world’s most expensive chocolate.
I can understand the coffee being expensive. Just imagine: someone has to follow a small mammal through a thick rainforest, and pick coffee beans from their dump. Now these are small mammals, with small digestive systems, so how far and for how long do you need to follow these mongooses (this plural is from Wikipedia) around to get a pound of coffee? This is the reason that the entire Indonesian output of kopi luwak is under 500 kg per year, and that the price of a pound can actually be up to $600. (Wikipedia)