THE KOPI LUWAK STORY The Luwak (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) denizen of the coffee (kopi) plantations of Sumatra, eats only the ripest coffee cherries. Unable to digest the coffee beans, the Luwak graciously deposits them on the jungle floor where they are eagerly collected by the locals. The stomach acids and enzymatic action involved in this unique fermentation process produces the beans for the world's rarest coffee beverage. "The secret of this delicious blend," enthuses the Indonesia Tourism Promotion Board, "lies in the bean selection, which is performed by a luwak, a species of civet cat endemic to Java. The luwak will eat only the choicest, most perfectly matured beans which it then excretes, partially digested, a few hours later. Plantation workers then retrieve the beans from the ground, ready for immediate roasting." Kopi luwak began showing up in North America during the 1990s at the height of the Starbucks-inspired gourmet coffee craze. It has been sold in the U.S. for up to $600 per pound and can fetch as much as $30 for a single brewed cup in some parts of the world. Coffee connoisseurs explain what makes kopi luwak worth the exorbitant price: The aroma is rich and strong, and the coffee is incredibly full bodied, almost syrupy. It's with a hint of chocolate, and lingers on the tongue with a long, clean aftertaste. It's definitely one of the most interesting and unusual cups I've ever had.
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