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The Los Angeles Times this morning has a front page story about a new kind of Indonesian coffee that can cost as much as $600 (US) per pound, with a single cup costing $30 at a five-star hotel in Hong Kong. It is called kopi luwak, and here’s how the Times describes it:

“To connoisseurs of fine coffee, only one is good to the last dropping.

“Human hands don't harvest the beans that make this rare brew. They're plucked by the sharp claws and fangs of wild civets, catlike beasts with bug eyes and weaselly noses that love their coffee fresh.

“They move at night, creeping along the limbs of robusta and hybrid arabusta trees, sniffing out sweet red coffee cherries and selecting only the tastiest. After chewing off the fruity exterior, they swallow the hard innards.

“In the animals' stomachs, enzymes in the gastric juices massage the beans, smoothing off the harsh edges that make coffee bitter and produce caffeine jitters. Humans then separate the greenish-brown beans from the rest of the dung, and once a thin outer layer is removed, they are ready for roasting. The result is a delicacy with a markup so steep it would make a drug dealer weep.”

According to the story, buyers should beware – but not for the reasons you’d think. A large percentage of the kopi luwak on the market is, in fact, fake…and has not been down the gullet of a civet. In addition, civets are increasingly rare in Indonesia … which makes their dung harder to find than ever before.
KC's View:
Let’s face it, we’ve all had coffee that has tasted like, well, you know. Who knew that this could end up being a positive characteristic of really, really expensive coffee?

If Starbucks is smart, it’ll start up a civet relief organization and start cornering the market on kopi luwak right now. Betcha that with a little good old fashioned Seattle know-how, they can bring the price down to five bucks a cup.

By the way, it is worth noting that in today’s MNB, there has been a story about Chinese food made from actual cardboard, and another one about Indonesian coffee made from actual civet dung.

You know what they call that at MNB World Headquarters?

A perfect Friday.