Researchers used 20 different types of coffee to assess the quality of biofuel produced from each one (University of Bath)
Researchers used 20 different types of coffee to assess the quality of biofuel produced from each one (University of Bath)University of Bath

You could be a multi-tasking wife or an overworked husband, a sleepless student or an underappreciated employee, life without coffee is inconceivable. Between the dark brew, flavoured lattes, whipped cream toppings and iced caffeinated drinks, your choice beverage is part of a $30-Billion industry.

In spite of all the frothy good options that your favourite downtown coffee shop offers, it is highly unlikely to serve the most expensive coffee in the world, because those classy beans are hiding out among the faeces in the intestinal gut of an Asian palm civet.

Civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, interestingly had very humble proletarian beginnings. According to folklore, plantation workers in colonized Indonesia, forbidden from consuming coffee beans picked from the plants, roasted the beans excreted by wild Asian palm civets that snuck into the plantations.

The civets are said to spend days scouring for the ripest, tastiest cherries and devour it along with the seed inside. Fortunately for humans, since they are incapable of digesting the seeds they come out intact. Their stay in the digestive system of the civet gives Kopi Luwak a uniquely rich aroma and smooth, rounded flavour that impressed the Dutch plantation owners.

In recent years, Kopi Luwak has won the hearts and wallets of many global consumers, raising their price to astronomical figures. A cup of Kopi Luwak easily sells for $30 to $100 in New York and London, while 1 kg of these roasted beans can fetch as much as $130 in Indonesia and five times more overseas.

Dean and Deluca, a chain of very upscale grocery stores sells Kopi Luwak that is collected from Thailand in a fifty gram-bag for $70. At Funnel Mill, a well-known celebrity hangout coffee shop in Santa Monica, California, a cup of this coffee is available by appointment only and for a whopping $80, without cream or sugar.

The ultimate in caffeine indulgence, though, is the civet coffee packed in a Britannia-silver and 24-carat gold-plated bag, sold at the British department store Harrods for over $10,000.

If you fancy yourself a coffee snob and have a hundred bucks or so burning a mug-sized hole in your wallet, a steaming cup of this civet intestinal goodness may just be the beverage for you.