July 30, 2004

$50 For a Cup of Joe

Want a crappuccino?

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.

How appetizing.

Uptown Girl

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