July 30, 2004
The world's most expensive coffee, craved by java junkies around the globe and touted for its mellow flavour and chocolate taste, owes its attributes to the digestive system of a large Indonesian cat.
Massimo Marcone says his research proves the myth is true - that Kopi Luwak coffee beans, collected from the feces of the civet cat, really are improved by their travels through the animal's stomach and intestines.
"You're looking for a cappuccino. You could get a crappuccino," joked Massimo Marcone, an adjunct professor of food science in Guelph, Ont.
Marcone said he's the first scientist to research the claims of the $50-a-cup coffee. His findings will appear in the Food Research International Journal in September.
Marcone set out to see if Kopi Luwak beans, which sell for more than $600 a pound, are any different from uneaten coffee beans. Using an electron microscope, forensic fingerprinting and even an electronic nose machine, Marcone found the beans eaten by a civet were harder, more brittle, darker in colour and less bitter after passing through the cats' digestive system.
I'm not a coffee drinker so the idea of this completely escapes me. Having said that I don't think I'd pay even five cents for a drink that consists of something that was retrieved from the bowel movement of an animal.
I can't imagine going into a very nice restaurant and saying I'd love to have a cup of coffee with a beans from cat poop.
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