Kopi Luwak…Rich, Robust, and the Rarest Coffee in the World

When was the last time you actually tasted your coffee? I’m not talking about your caramel macchiato or extra skinny latte with ten scoops of sugar. I mean real, authentic, coffee that can hold its own without adding flavored syrups and fancy yuppie names.

Kopi Luwak is that coffee.

Famous for being the most expensive cup of coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak is digested by a small critter called the civet in lands like the Philippines and Sumatra. The process and the type of coffee the civet ingests means that no two Kopi Luwak brews ever taste exactly the same. (So if someone brags that their latest trendiest coffee tastes just like a cup of Kopi Luwak they’re full of it, no pun intended.)

What makes Kopi Luwak worth so much? The enzymes in the civets digestive system break down the bitterness in the beans and releases hidden chocolate flavors. Plus, it’s not cheap to hand pick each one of these beans from civet-droppings, clean them off, and ship them to the States.

The pot that we brewed from Heirloom Coffee at the Alister & Paine headquarters was just as promised—rich and robust without the bitterness.

For a Kopi Luwak experience without the price tag, try The Legendee from Vietnamese coffee experts Trung Nguyen. In 1998 the demand for civet coffee led Trung Nguyen to hire eminent German coffee scientists to research the chemical process that took place when civets digested coffee beans. They developed a natural enzyme soak that simulates the Kopi Luwak process without all the mess.

If you don’t mind the bitterness and want to taste a real cup of coffee that hasn’t been digested by another living animal first, we recommend Barako Liberica. Once a lost species of coffee, it is now being revived in the Kalinga region of the Philippines. Barako means “stud”, named after the rough-and-tumble coffee plantation workers who worked hard, drank gallons of the thickest, darkest coffee you can imagine, and partied in the evenings on the untamed provinces.

Heirloom Coffee is one of the few companies that hunts out these original beans from around the world—in regions that haven’t been affected by what took place in the mainstream coffee market over the last few decades (namely, the disappearance of quintessential, delicious, and rich-tasting coffees and the takeover of coffee more redolent of cardboard, cereal and licorice).

Do us a favor and hold off on the cream and sugar until after you’ve had a sip of what coffee’s supposed to taste like. It may make you rethink your entire morning ritual.

Brought to you exclusively by the Alister & Paine Editorial Team

*Tried & Tested. Alister & Paine practices old-school journalistic integrity. We only write from experience–never press releases. If we haven’t tried it and loved it you won’t find it in our magazine.