Removing bitterness from coffee the hard way

A strong cup of coffee that delivers a minimum of bitterness is a prize for many coffee aficionados.

But Kopi Luwak might test your passion for a perfect cup-o-joe.

Kopi Luwak is an Indonesian coffee that costs upwards of $200 a pound. That’s not a typo – that’s a 2 and two zeros. The price, however, is not the most challenging aspect of this rare coffee.

In Southeast Asia there’s a variety of cat-like mammal called the palm civet. And the palm civet especially enjoys eating perfectly ripe coffee berries. And when the palm civet digests these ideal berries, the inner beans are expelled from the animal intact with most of the outer berry stripped away.

Not for the squeamish, obviously, but the rewards are reported to be great.

As the theory goes, palm civet digestive enzymes neutralize certain proteins that are responsible for the bitterness in a typical cup of coffee. The result: A smooth and delicious coffee that’s VERY hard to produce in large quantities.

According to one source, a major Vietnamese coffee producer has come up with a process that simulates the palm civet’s enzyme action so that a synthetic Kopi Luwak can be produced without having to coax just a few beans at a time through a cat.

The upside: A more affordable coffee with zero kitty litter content.

The downside: If your Kopi Luwak doesn’t have a little meow in it, it’s just not the real deal.

“Kopi Luwak” The Coffee Critic,