What does the poo coffee taste like?Posted on 2007.11.21 at 02:07
Today I drank the poo coffee!
I met my friend Louis in the city for a couple games of chess (we split, but only because he ran out of time in the middle of a mate threat in the second game). Afterward I decided to mosey on down to La Colombe on a whim, to see how those boys were doing.
As fate would have it, Doug and Johann were awaiting a writer from GQ Magazine. Ben, the writer, was doing a piece on the world's most expensive luxury products. He got to drive a Bugatti, and wear some ridiculously expensive jeans (they looked pretty nice), and drink some stupidly expensive wine. I can't remember the name of the wine, but it sounded famous. ;)
Ok... first of all... How do I get this man's job???
Moving on. One of the super luxury products he was reviewing was the infamous kopi luwak coffee from Indonesia. If you are reading this blog, you probably already know about this coffee. But for the uninitiated, basically kopi luwak is coffee from the feces of the Civet Cat.
Here is a Civet Cat for your viewing pleasure.
"Look deep into my cute little eyes and obey: you shall eat my leavings."
So the Civet eats the coffee cherries off the tree, and then later defecates the undigestible parts, which is the bean and the pergamino. Then people harvest the feces, clean it off and mill the coffee. And then roast it, and then drink it. This is expensive stuff, as you can imagine. It's called "the most expensive coffee in the world," though of course that's not necessarily true anymore depending on how you measure things, thanks to the Esmeralda this year. I'm too lazy to put up a rebuttal on Wikipedia... but you are welcome to. Please. Here's the wiki link.
Anyway, Ben the GQ writer says he did his research and bought from the reputable guys in Australia. As you can imagine, there's a lot of counterfeit kopi luwak out there. They are called Animal Coffee.
So usually I try to maintain a pretty strict policy of no bad-mouthing on this blog. I feel like there's enough negative stuff out there. If I don't like something, I just usually don't mention it, or find something that I do like about it to mention. But I gotta say, the poo coffee isn't that great. In fact, it's kind of bad. The positive things I can say is that it's very mellow and soft, and that it's not completely boring. The sample we had was four weeks out of the roaster too, so I concede that it had freshness issues that aren't the fault of the coffee.
But the coffee was just lacking. It had a mushroomy, earthy aroma, very mild. It had some very faint, side-of-the-mouth malic acid and lactic acid. That's about it. There's an article here about the science of the stuff: New Research Explains Structure, Taste of Kopi Luwak Coffee. Some of the claims out there about what makes it special don't seem wrong, per se, they just seem to assume an extremely low quality of "regular" coffee against which to measure the special stuff. Or not extremely low, I suppose, but certainly not at the level of specialty producers today. People can make much, much better coffee than this, even if you are looking for something soft and earthy and understated like kopi luwak. And generally it's not $50 a cup.
Anyway, to each his own, I suppose! I'm happy I got to taste it. I get asked about that a lot, now I can finally answer in the affirmative, "Yes, I have drunk the poo."
PS: Thanks Doug and Johann and Ben (...and GQ for paying for it)
(I was trying to keep a straight face in this photo... the poo was cracking me up)