Kopi Luwak: Sprudge.com Says It’s Gimmicky Garbage
Oliver Strand of the New York Times has been doing a terrific job reporting on coffee in recent months. Which is why a number of folks on Twitter were confused and dismayed when this showed up on their RSS reader via the NYT Topics – Coffee blog:
Animal Scent: Today in the New York Times, Normitsu Onishi looks at civet coffee, also known as kopi luwak, and how the market continues to expand. The coffee now wholesales for $500 per kilo, and civet farms are popping up to meet the demand – there are some evocative photos – though the domesticated animals are arguably producing a different product than what’s harvested in the wild: there’s more to superior coffee than a finely tuned digestive tract. — Oliver Strand
Why publish this story now? Why publish it all? Kopi Luwak is a gimmicky novelty item that has been mistaken as uber-specialty for years. In the June 13, 2006 podcast of Portafilter.net, Nick Cho, Peter Giuliano and Gee Barger all cupped animalcoffee.com’s Kopi Luwak.
The results? “Distinct aroma of goat cheese. Tangy, herbish,” says Peter Giuliano. On the break? “Plasticky”, “sweet”, “green grassy”. The taste? “Robusta!” “Mossy” “The third cup is awful. Blood curdling.”
Where does this coffee come from? “The way it’s described,” Nick explains, “this is free-range coffee poop.” Gee asks, “So this isn’t caged civets?” Nick answers, “I guess not.”
A civet in the wild will eat whatever it finds, off the tree or on the ground. Unripe cherries, rotten cherries, as well as ripe cherries, different varietals, and species; they’re like the goats of the jungle canopy floor. Robusta? Arabica? The civet doesn’t care! Once the coffee has been processed, hand sorting has to be employed to pull out all the underdeveloped/rotten green beans and sort the Robusta from the Arabica. Animalcoffee.com insists “All Animalcoffee kopi luwak is collected in plantations and the surrounding jungle and is the droppings of wild luwaks.”
While that may be true, this is usually what Kopi Luwak farms look like:
Force feeding civets in tight cages and collecting their droppings. So much easier, right? Look closely and you’ll notice that even the hand selected cherries fed to the civets are a mix of ripes and unripes (see those green cherries?)…Sprudge.com calls shenanigans!
Now, can we stop talking about this and start talking about something else?