Taste Indian Luwak coffee
India is on its way to manufacturing the world’s priciest coffee made from civet cat poop
India, Asia’s third-largest producer and exporter of coffee, has started producing the world’s most expensive coffee, made from the poop of civet cat, on a small scale in Coorg district of Karnataka.
The civet coffee, also called as luwak coffee, is expensive because of the uncommon methods of producing it. It is produced from the coffee beans digested by civet cat. The faeces of this cat are collected, processed and sold. It is highly priced because it is claimed to be more nutritious. Besides it involves a high cost operation in sourcing the animal dropping, wastage during processing and quality certification.
Civet coffee is considered the drink of the elite and is consumed widely in the Gulf nations and Europe. It is sold for Rs 20,000-25,000/kg.
Balinese and Javanese coffee make for some of the finest varieties of the world. In Bali, an entire hillside is cultivated with cocoa and coffee trees, orange and banana groves, spice trees and shrubs raising their heads in between, mostly canopied by the large-leaved cassava. Young girls are always busy cherry-picking and sorting the male and female coffee beans.
Simply put, the male versions come in a single-chamber pod and are whole like a mini rugby ball. The female beans are halved, split as they are into two pod chambers. Because of the wholesomeness of the male bean, it is called a peaberry that has a more rounded finish, is less bitter and has less caffeine. The trick is, they can only be hand-sorted; no mechanisation works. But the real boutique experience lies in tasting luwak kopi (animal coffee). This involves the civet cat, found aplenty in these parts. Nocturnal creatures, they have an innate ability to scent out the best cherries and ingest them. While the civet digests the fruit, the bean remains intact in its stomach, gets fermented and infused with secretions of the musk gland. Plantation workers then sort out the enriched bean from the animal poop on the forest floor. They are then washed over and over, resulting in a very fine flavour, and left to dry like the normal beans.
In our largest coffee-growing state of Karnataka, a start-up firm, Coorg Consolidated Commodities (CCC), has made a humble beginning of making the luxury coffee on a small scale and has also decided to open a cafe to serve the brew locally.
“Initially, 20 kg of civet coffee was produced. After establishing the start-up firm, 60 kg was produced in 2015-16 and 200 kg last year. We hope half a tonne production from the new crop to be harvested from October,” shared Narendra Hebbar, one of the founders of CCC.
The exotic coffee is being sold locally under the brand Ainmane. He said that the company has only one outlet at Club Mahindra Madikeri Resort where it sells locally produced coffee, spices and other products. Hebbar also shared that the company sources the animal poop from plantations located close to forest from where civet cats come to eat the ripest coffee bean cherries.
“A civet cat eats flesh of the coffee cherries and not the bean. Natural enzymes in civet’s stomach enhance the bean flavor and that’s why this coffee is unique,” he said.
Now, farmers are understanding the importance of this coffee and “we produce it in natural form unlike other countries where civet cats are caged and forcefully fed with coffee beans,” he noted.
It is being sold at Rs 8,000 per kg here, while it is available at Rs 20,000-25,000 per kg overseas, he said.
Asked if the company plans to export, Hebbar said it is not viable to export in view of high certification cost given the current low production levels.
“We want to promote this coffee locally. We will open a cafe soon. We will sell Coorg Luwark Coffee along with other varieties like Cappuccino and Expresso,” he added.
A senior Coffee Board official also confirmed that civet cat coffee is being produced in small quantities in parts of Coorg and Chamarajnagar districts.
“It is very small quantity, done by individuals. They produce and market as a speciality coffee, a niche product which is very expensive,” he said.
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