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What Is The Worlds Most Expensive Coffee? Why?

Updated on July 30, 2013

Having found prominence in recent years due to increased advertising “Kopi Luwak” or “civet coffee” has gone on to become the world’s most expensive coffee. Forget your blue mountain Jamaican coffee, this one can go for up to $700 per kilo. To give an example, that is about the same price per kilo as pure silver. It is however a huge mark up from the $20 per kilo that a person is getting to farm these coffee beans. It is mainly found on Indonesian islands of Bali, Sumatra although it is also found naturally in parts of the Philippines.

But what is it that makes this coffee so expensive and more importantly, is there any real justification for the huge pricetag that makes it the worlds most expensive coffee?

Why Is It So Expensive?

The reason that the Kopi Luwak coffee bean is so expensive is not down at all to its taste. In fact, many have described the taste as being rather awful. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) states that there is a "general consensus within the industry ... it just tastes bad". So clearly, if it is not the taste which makes this coffee so expensive, then what is it? Surely it can't be that rare that its price-tag is based solely on how hard it is to get hold of...

What makes this coffee so special is that instead of just harvesting the coffee beans, the Kopi Luwak cherries have to first be eaten by the ‘Asian Palm Civet’ and then excreted before they are harvested by the farmer. In total, they spend about a day or two in the Civet’s digestive system before they are excreted. Traditionally, this process was carried out in the wild and so this meant that the coffee was extremely rare. However, in recent years there have been farms created in these countries with the sole intention of farming the Kopi Luwak beans. This has meant that it has now become freely available to people all over the world. It is still relatively hard to produce though (and hence the reason why it is the most expensive coffee in the world).

It does seem that many are duped into first believing that because it is sold to them as 'The Worlds Most Expensive Coffee' that it necessarily is worth the amount that they are purchasing it for. It is in my mind perhaps one of those things that you would only try once to see what the novelty is all about. Whether or not you would choose this as your preferred coffee remains to be seen...

Despite the fact that many reject the taste of this coffee though, the farmers in these Indonesian countries still claim that the coffee is better than other conventional coffees...


Why Would They Claim This Coffee Is Better?

The Indonesian farmers make two main claims as to why they believe the coffee to be better than other coffees. These are;

  1. The Asian Palm Civet will naturally only choose to eat the best tasting coffee berries. Therefore, the coffee it excretes will be the best tasting coffee.
  2. The digestive processes of the Kopi Luwak make the coffee taste better.

Whether or not these claims are valid remains to be seen. The amount of scientific research into this topic is very limited and so as such most of this is based around claims without hard evidence.

One of the few studies we have on this issue we see coming from the university of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). The conclusion from this study was that the digestive process does reduce the bitterness of the bean in taste. It would appear that there were no further conclusions made in the study that there are any other benefits to the coffee being digested first..

Is It Worth A Try Though?

In my personal opinion this coffee is perhaps worth a try as it is a novelty purely because of the fact that it is 'The Worlds Most Expensive Coffee'. However, unless you are a serious coffee fan or slightly insane then I do not think that you will want to pay up to $700 per kilo for this stuff. I think that I would just buy a cup of it to try...

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