The bottom line on Kopi Luwak

The coffeecrew had a little taste party with Kopi Luwak coffee... and helped write an episode of CSI Las Vegas! helps write episode of CSI Las VegasI explained, very carefully, the processes of cultivation, digestion and roasting of the coffee to my thirsty subjects.

As if in parlance with the hearing impaired, I repeated my delivery. Someone in the suspicious crowd uttered, "Colin, that's Bull-shit!"

I said, "No, John, you are not listening!".

Kopi Luwak: The civet cat or marsupial luwak, of Indonesia, picks the choice ripe berries from the coffee bush. Unable to digest the cherries beyond the fruit and mucilage, the creature excretes the beans onto the ground for collection by humans.

The cherry of choice for these tropical cats is the lowly robusta bean. Not being a bean of distinction, like its richer cousin, the Arabica, the robusta bean is an ordinary one, lacking body, flavor and anything faintly resembling a classic coffee profile. So, you ask, what is the deal with this coffee anyway?

One would assume that a coffee lacking character would hardly be improved with a colonic treatment from a finicky feline. From our taste analysis, we could not agree more. The coffee is straight ahead robusta bean. There is nothing here to justify the price tag.


The coffee is a thin brew and, what is so typical of this variety of coffee, has the complexity of a dime store cigar and the lasting satisfaction of a tic-tac. So, who is buying this stuff and why?

At three-hundred dollars a pound, at its peak, this is not exactly the brew that nudges the Folger's off of the grocery shelves, nor does it find its way into my larder by any other circumstance other than the hapless generosity of some vendor dreaming of moving this stuff.

Let's face it, cat poop coffee has all the beverage appeal of deer urine beer yet it keeps leaping off the shelves of stores like "Urban Fare", Vancouver, where it can be tucked into your nickel plated shopping cart alongside goodies like whole chilpotle peppers, chocolate covered ants and premium beluga caviar.

This knowledge and information came in very handy recently when I was contacted by David Berman and Bob Harris of CBS Television on behalf of CSI-Crime Special Investigations(Las Vegas), America's most popular primetime TV show. They wanted to build an episode around the coffee sensation, Kopi Luwak.

Needless to say, I was ready and willing to volunteer everything I knew on the subject for the express purpose of them integrating every nugget I could offer into this episode of television. And so we talked and e-mailed and talked and e-mailed.

Before you could say, "Something smells funny!", we had enough material to power the basic punch-line of the show. It was very amusing watching the episode of CSI unfold with the various squibs of bad science dialogue coming forth. "Hey! I wrote that!" I told all of my friends and they told their friends.

Before I knew it I had achieved brief cult status. It is all over now but it was fun.

Here is the extract of dialogue that I assembled for the show:

C.S.I: Crime Scene Investigation
Season 3 - Episode 20

GRISSOM:  Okay, so you've identified the type of coffee.

(GREG hits his hand against the results.)

GREG:  Kopi luwak.  The most expensive coffee in the world.  Revered for its
rich, chocolatey texture and made from the excrement of a small indonesian cat-
like creature known as a luwak.

GRISSOM:  Cat feces?

GREG:  The luwak eats only the ripest beans, which pass through its digestive
system intact.  However, during the process enzymes break down a number of amino
acids which cause bitterness. 

GRISSOM:  (understands)  And leaves a unique chemical signature. 

GREG:  So whichever one of your suspects drinks kopi luwak is your killer.

(GRISSOM looks down at the results and smiles.)