Story of Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak is the talk of coffee circles these days because of its circuitous and unique pathway from the coffee plant to your coffee cup.
Kopi is Indonesia word for coffee and luwak is a local name of a tree-dweling animal that is a kind of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaproditus).
These catlike animals were long regarded as pests because they would climb in the coffee trees and eat only the ripest, reddest coffee cherries.
Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract.
This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago. In this places, the civet eats the berries and passed through the digestive tract.
The stomach acids and enzymes digest the beans' cherry-like covering and ferment the beans themselves, before they excreted. It's believes that fermentation process could give Kopi Luwak coffee a unique flavour.
The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then roasted and ground just like any other coffee. At Caswell's Fine Coffees and Teas, we are roast the beans in medium to dark roast to get a rich, heavy flavour with hints of caramel or chocolate.
In early days, the beans would be collected in the wild from a 'latrine', or a specific place where the civet would defecate as a means to mark its territory, and these latrines would be a predictable place for local gatherers to find the beans. More commonly today, captured civets are fed raw berries, the feces produced are then processed and the coffee beans offered for sale.
A Research about Kopi Luwak
There is a research in 2002-2004 by Prof. Massimo Marcone from University of Guelph, he examined the chemical and physical properties of Kopi Luwak coffee. He found that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of the Luwak wa in fact affecting the beans. But he was surprised to find - despite the unusual fermentation path - that roasted Kopi Luwak beans had lower bacterial counts then control beans.
Pitting was also observed on the surface, and the next step was to determine if the acids and enzymes were actually penetrating the Kopi Luwak beans, affecting them in some way. Electhrophoresis - a method that "fingerprints" proteins - was used to Luwak beans were found to be lower in total protein, meaning that proteins were partially broken down and leached out during their travel in GI tract of the Luwak.
This has the potential to affect the flavour and aroma of the beans, says Marcone.
Proteins are responsible for much of the flavour, particularly bitterness. Since kopi Luwak beans have less protein, they may produce a less bitter coffee, he says.
Analysis of the volatile compounds - also responsible for flavour and aroma - showed they were significantly different than the control, further indicating the potential for Kopi Luwak coffee having a different flavour than ordinary coffee.
Formal taste tests were not performed, but Marcone wants to do them in the future.
Marcone’s work was assisted by members of the food chemistry and food microbiology sectors of the Food Science Department at the University of Guelph.