A 30 Dollar Cup of Pre-Digested Coffee

Kopi Luwak Arabica

What you’re looking at is 30 dollars in a cup, believe it or not.  This is Kopi Luwak Arabica.  Why is it so expensive? Well…

Pure Kopi Luwak Java Arabica Coffee

It’s all in the digestion… or production… process.  You see, this coffee is made from beans that have been previously digested and crapped out by an Asian palm civet.  In the picture above you can see an example of the coffee beans prior to cleaning and roasting, and the finished product on the left.  The cost of the animal husbandry and the long process of securing the digested beans is what makes the coffee so expensive.

Jezalin's New York in Limelight Market

When I lived in Singapore I’d heard about this coffee.  It’s mostly produced in Indonesia.  I never did take the time to try it out while I was there, and of course I wasn’t about to spend 30 dollars on a cup of coffee here in the US, so I was happy to see a Groupon pop up for a 20 dollar discount at Jezalin’s, which is where I had my first kopi luwak experience.

Jezalin's New York in Limelight Market

Jezalin's New York in Limelight Market

Like the rest of the Limelight Market (corner of 6th Avenue and 20th Street in Manhattan), Jezalin’s has a really nice, classy atmosphere.  When I got my cup of coffee, the girl behind the counter (also visible in the picture above) came over and showed me the display and explained the process.  I was already familiar with where the coffee comes from, but it was fun to listen to her talk about it.

So, was it worth it?  It was definitely worth the 10 bucks I wound up paying.  The kopi luwak tastes like coffee, but it has a thicker taste to it.  It’s not as strong as coffee.  It has a more mellow, earthy (poopy?) taste to it.  Oddly enough, I felt like taking a nap after finishing it off.  At 30 bucks a cup, it’s not going to replace my morning cup of coffee, but it was a pleasant experience overall, and I’ll definitely convince my wife to try some.

14 comments

  1. ed · August 17, 2011

    Have to agree withe 'fried pig brain', etc. But these aren't a waste product. As for 'supply and demand', it's not that the suppliers are being fined for not producing enough to the point that prices have to rocket right;). Yup, i can guess that stuff must be expensive in NYC, and especially 'exotic' waste products. Well, you definitely chose the appropriate term. Quite hilarious in itself.

  2. Brad Farless · August 16, 2011

    Ed: Well, 'Pre-Digested Coffee' is the term I used, to grab interest with the blog title, though it does seem like a politically correct title that they would use on packaging.

    I actually heard that this is a pretty popular drink, especially in Asia. I agree with you on the price being high, but I think it's a matter of supply vs demand, plus the general price hike on everything in NYC. The space that's being used for this coffee shop is in an expensive area of town. In Asia I think it's a lot cheaper, but I don't know for sure. I do know what you mean about people cutting corners in poor areas though. When I lived briefly in the Philippines, I discovered that the guy selling propane was mixing in kerosene, because it's cheaper, but it was coating the bottom of our pots and pans with black crust and ruining them.

    I don't suppose this is any more unusual than people eating fried pig brain, chilled monkey brain, snails, or chitterlings.

  3. ed · August 16, 2011

    I couldn't believe it as i read it Brad. 'Pre-digested coffee'? Is that what they call it? I suppose that does help in 'masking' the flavour. 'Kopi Luwak'? I think the Malays might call it 'Kopi Tai (pronounced, 'ta-eee')' (coffee shit), but naming it as such wouldn't bring in customers i suppose.

    That is one expensive 'filtration' process! I wonder if they insured the intestinal tract of the cat.

    The cost of 'labour' in Indonesia wouldn't be much, so a 30$ price is definitely a super-hiked up 'fair trade' price. I don't think it would cost much to hire an indonesian man to squat beside the cat and watch it do the business. For all you know, the Indonesian man 'contributes' to the output as well – unless they're doing it in the states.

    Never underestimate '3rd world' 'innovative' strategies when it comes to making money. Poverty, or greed, can bring out tendencies that might lead us to make 'chicken' out of rats, buns out of cardboard (China), money out of thin air, or in this case, coffee out of sh*t. But credit to you for having the courage to try it. I couldn't.

    F****** unbelievable. I bet these people will be laughing their way to the toilet, um, bank. Damn!

  4. RONW · August 2, 2011

    LOL, not your average cup of jo.

  5. Armand · August 1, 2011

    Balance, Exactly.

    Under posterous as well as Twitter, I had a lot of satirical rants, some specifically tailored to provoke irk.

    2011, blog-balance is needed.

    (sipping free office coffee)

  6. Brad Farless · August 1, 2011

    Armand: As far as I know, there are embed links in Picasa for individual photos. Do you mean for albums, to present a sort of gallery? Either way, the photo embed codes were always kind of retarded. I usually used the direct link to the photo instead.

    I've done quite a few… cleanings… of this blog, going through and removing old posts that I just can't understand why I posted, which is probably one reason (other than being more burdened with work now) that I'm not posting as frequently. With this blog having my real name as the blog address, I realized that I need to find a balance between interests and what I want to have publicly associated with myself on the Internet. I suppose there's no way to avoid going out on a limb because there's always going to be someone that doesn't like what you write.

  7. Armand · August 1, 2011

    I was using Live Writer when I recently (earlier this year) started up a personal blog. I deleted all posts as I didn't like the direction it was taking and have to decide what if any theme there will be. Considering that like yours, the domain name is my full name also.
    Live writer was very convenient, and I liked that I got a real preview as well.

    That is the thing I noticed also with G+, there is only one media allowed. Pretty lame say if I wanted to post an image, followed by a link to the rest of the Gallery. Also, I still have personal crusade with the Picasa & G+ integration. I am still not sure why you can't share one image from a Gallery.
    Also, say as for you here in blogger, why can't you upload these photos to Picasa and be allowed an 'embed' code that works across blogger, G+ and even other sites?

    Embed for Picasa would really help expand their position vs Flickr.

  8. Brad Farless · August 1, 2011

    Armand: Ya, it's not too hard to set up if you keep it simple. I can't imagine that given how much work they're putting into redesigning their products that Blogger will get left behind. I mean, there's only so much they can do to improve it, but the commenting system for sure. If you do use Blogger, post stuff to it with Windows Live Writer. It offers more options for formatting posts, plus it can automatically resize photos, etc. I don't know how important that is anymore, given the supposed unlimited space, but it'll let you watermark photos too if you want to.

    By the way, how can a microblog post replace a blog post that can contain a mix of photos, videos, links and embedded slideshows, etc.?

  9. Armand · August 1, 2011

    I've wanted to re-start what I started on Posterous a while back, and I hate that I am leaving so much there, but perhaps it's time to start new. I like wordpress and its swiss-army like versatility, but as Google will eventually be issuing food to citizens, I will probably home in on Blogger. I see that you have done well for customizing it. I just need to dive in.

    As for the coffee, maybe I will give it a shot, should I have a coupon or meetup with someone that has domesticated a Asian palm civet.

  10. Brad Farless · August 1, 2011

    dashaman: Hi! You could make a bundle selling these beans I think, but it would probably cost quite a bit to get quality civets in the first place.

    I dumped Disqus b/c I got tired of the messages I was seeing on Twitter about constant downtime, and people telling me they'd typed a long comment only to have it disappear. There were constant problems with the comments syncing back to Blogger.

    I guess I just wanted to make sure people could comment and that their comments would stay on the blog. A lot of comments made on Disqus were lost. What if Disqus shuts down some day? I have hope that Google will eventually remove their heads from their butts and improve the commenting system here.

    Armand: My guess is that someone ran out of coffee, saw the civet turds on the ground and thought, 'I need my fix. This will have to do.' Or maybe it started out as poor people's coffee and was then adopted as a delicacy due to taste and rarity. It's not bad. Give it a try. You can tell people you're adventurous if you do. =D

    Micro-blogging will never replace regular blogging. Static pages like this one, with well presented images and information, that's easily indexed, searchable, and consumed is better than finding a status update. Somehow it just seems more permanent to me and more reliable. It's also easier to use labels/tags to flip through the pages of the blog to find more relevant content, especially if you're looking at a blog that specializes in one thing.

    It would be nice if the Blogger profile was removed and it used a Google+ profile instead. It seems redundant to have two profiles. Having your blog, or updates from your blog, be a tab in your G+ profile seems likely to happen, probably with the option to use the 'dynamic view' of your choice to present your blog content in Google+.

    By the way, dashaman, if you need a G+ invite, let me know. Just be aware that they aren't allowing code names yet. Or, at the least, they're suspending those accounts when they find them.

  11. Armand · August 1, 2011

    “Thicker & Earthy” …for obvious reasons. 😉
    I don't know man, I know they clean the beans and all, but I can't imagine why regular coffee won't do.
    How the hell did they figure this out?

    BTW, I've been reading several articles lately that discuss the near future of how blogs will fade in lieu of micro-blogging like G+.

    While the bloggers have had their merits, and made valid points as to why the speed of micro-blogging will prevail, this post, simple as it is, reminds me that they may be wrong.

    The photos look great, presented as the story unfolds. I am hoping for a future with integrated G+ & Blogger somehow. Perhaps if the profile, like yours is connected to a blogger account, and additional tab will be present on the G+ profile.

  12. dashaman · August 1, 2011

    hi brad,
    i like this post. there are arabica coffee farms in batangas areas here in PI. make you wish you have a parcel of land with wild “alamids” (civet cats) who loves eating this ripe coffee beans.

    *you ditched disquss?

    best regards

  13. Brad Farless · August 1, 2011

    Now that you mention it, it does seem a little like Marche. Split a cup! That'll cut out some of the cost. =)

  14. runningtindera · August 1, 2011

    i loved this post plus the pictures turned out to be awesome. kinda reminds me of Marche for some reason though. Id like to try it out for experience but the truth is, Im too FRUGAL to splurge that much money on coffee.But yeah I will try it indeed so I can understand what the fuss is all about. =)

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