REVEALED: how kopi luwak was found

DID YOU HEAR about the coffee which cost ONE WEEK’S WAGES per cup?

espresso-xl

No one wanted to buy the pricey kopi luwak recently on sale in Shanghai at 200 yuan a shot—which is about US$32, the average minimum weekly wage in Chinese cities.

The salesman was depressed. What to do? Cut the price?

Realizing that people are weird, he RAISED the price to a ridiculous 900 yuan (US$140) a cup, a whole month’s wages.

“Instantly, there was a long queue of people lining up to buy the stuff,” said a reader who told me about it. Wow.

phillipines_crowded

This got me thinking. I should move to Shanghai and sell coffee, with each cup costing a year’s wages PLUS your house and firstborn.

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Humans are bizarre, especially about addictive things, such as consuming caffeine, watching idiots hurt themselves on YouTube, and putting revolting things in their mouths.

As regular readers know, kopi luwak is made from beans which have been semi-digested by an Indonesian forest animal somewhere between a civet cat and a weasel.

It is marketed as “regurgitated by a weasel” because the marketing people thought “pooped by a weasel” sounded disgusting. As if “regurgitated by a weasel” doesn’t.

kopi-luwak-coffee-beans

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For years, I wondered how it was discovered. You’d have to have the world’s fussiest coffee snob CO-EXISTING in the same body as the sort of person who eats weasel poop.

“Instead of my normal special blend Columbian espresso hand-ground by virgins, I decided to start my day today by consuming some weasel poop I found on the ground. I found it pleasantly piquant.”

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BALI, INDONESIA -JANUARY 16:  A Luwak snacks on coffee berries inside its cage January 16, 2011 in Bali, Indonesia. The Luwak coffee is known as the most expensive coffee in the world because of the way the beans are processed and the limited supply.  The Luwak is an Asian palm civet, which looks like a cross between a cat and a ferret.  The civet climbs the coffee trees to find the best berries, eats them, and eventually the coffee beans come out in its stools as a complete bean. Coffee farmers then harvest the civet droppings and take the beans to a processing plant. Luwak coffee is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, and also in the Philippines. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

Then a coffee executive told me what actually happened. Dirt-poor peasants picking wild coffee were allowed to keep unwanted beans covered in poop for their consumption.

They were stunned to find their drink tastier than the boss’s. At first, it was a secret.

“Enjoy your top-of-the-line Arabica bean coffee, sir, while we make do with this horrible poopy stuff,” they said, covering their smiles with their hands.

The employers eventually noticed the blissed-out looks on the peasants’ faces and the secret was out.

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The shock news in the hot drinks trade is that the tea industry is shortly to launch Panda Poop Tea.

A man named An Yashi plans to charge US$80,000 a kilo for tea from bushes fertilized by panda droppings.

The blurb says that it has numerous health benefits, including curing cancer.

Don’t get too excited, because EVERY product in China carries a blurb saying it will cure cancer, including cigarettes (not a joke—readers sent me “health” ciggies which make that claim).

The only problem is that Mr An hasn’t grown the stuff yet.

But he told reporters he had “collected five tons of panda feces”, and was keeping them safe at his home in Sichuan until spring.

His wife must be a saint.

Anyway, I know criminals can be unpredictable, but is there a real risk they would steal it? “I hear there’s a lot of poop in that house, we’d better organize a heist.”

Sounds unlikely to me. These days, most people have better things to do. Like watching idiots hurt themselves on YouTube.

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IN OTHER NEWS…

  • I am heading up to Shanghai next week (March 16 to 18) for a literary festival and to launch my new book. Come and say hello if you reading this from there

  • Special service for lazy readers: Note that this post is provided in text and video form; I would love to incorporate videos of readers / commenters if you can get them to me

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QUESTION to think about: Would you drink kopi luwak? I like coffee and drink it every day—some busy days I exist pretty much on coffee alone: but somehow the ickiness of the idea of animal poop would probably put me off trying kopi luwak.

Reader Dennis Ng, who is in the coffee business, told me he’s tried it and it was great.

Would you drink the stuff?

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