Pricey coffee good to the last dropping
Would you pay $175 for a pound of coffee beans which had passed through the backside of a furry mammal in Indonesia?
Apparently, some coffee lovers wanting to treat themselves to something special are lapping it up.
Kopi Luwak beans from Indonesia are rare and expensive, thanks to a unique taste and aroma enhanced by the digestive system of palm civets, nocturnal tree-climbing creatures about the size of a large house cat.
"People like coffee. And when they want to treat themselves, they order the Kopi Luwak," said Isaac Jones, director of sales for Tastes of The World, an online supplier of gourmet coffee, tea and cocoa.
Despite being carnivorous, civets eat ripe coffee cherries for treats. The coffee beans, which are found inside of the cherries, remain intact after passing through the animal.
Civet droppings are found on the forest floor near coffee plantations. Once carefully cleaned and roasted, the beans are sold to specialty buyers.
Jones said sales for Kopi Luwak rose three-fold just before the Christmas holiday compared with the first half of the year. The company started selling the rare coffee in February 2005.
He expects to sell around 200 pounds of the coffee this year, with orders coming from North America and Europe. So far, most of the orders have been from California.
Indonesia produces only about 500 kilograms, or roughly 1,100 pounds, of the coffee each year, making it extremely expensive and difficult to find.
"It's the most expensive coffee that we know about in the world," said Jones.
By comparison Jamaica's Blue Mountain coffee, considered to be an expensive type, sells for $35 to $40 per pound, while a pound of Colombia's Supremo Arabica can be bought for about $14.