Poop of an animal, the most exotic coffee? That’s true; the most expensive coffee is derived from the poop of the Asian Palm Civet. Speculation surrounds the originality of the coffee as there is no standardized test available to check the authenticity of the “real Kopi Luwak”, or civet coffee.

Civet coffee

In Indonesia there are mammals that ingest the red ripe coffee cherries to give us the most exotic coffee in the world. The small arboreal mammal the civet is similar to a squirrel and it gorges on the red coffee cherries. The fruit portion is digested and the rest of the beans get into the digestive tracts of these small mammals and are passed out as undigested feces.

These feces are gathered and then have to undergo cleaning, wet- fermenting and a sun-drying and roasting process. The coffee is an online craze and is sold in South East Asia at a number of stores.

At the moment the poop from the Asian Palm civet is a very attractive target. This gives the most expensive civet coffee that can be sold for a whopping amount, as much as $ 150-227 a pound. There is a dire need to authenticate Indonesian “real Kopi Luwak” or the civet coffee, say the scientists.
Metabolic fingerprinting

It’s the metabolic fingerprint that has made it easier for the scientists. The scientists can use the metabolomics technology to substantiate the fact that the coffee is “real Kopi Luwak” by finding a metabolic finger print. During the process of metabolism there are certain substances that are produced as by-product .These substances are called metabolites. Mass spectrometry and Gas chromatography are used to detect the presence of metabolites. The metabolic finger print is made up of these metabolites.

The fingerprint is chemically unique as it gives evidence of higher levels of malic acid and citric acid. The distinctive chemical finger print also reflects inositol/pyroglutamic acid ratio says Eiichiro Fukusaki a co-author of the study done on civet coffee.

According to many different noted scientists a lot of technical improvements are still to be inculcated before the fingerprint can be used for the authentication but it is a very good beginning they say.

It’s a questionable thing whether the flavor of the civet coffee is influenced by the berry travel through the civet’s digestive tract and the proteins in the coffee beans are broken down by the enzymes in the animal’s stomach.

According to Rocky Rhodes, president of International Coffee Consulting, the civet goes for the beans by choosing them then it is the rest of the proceure that makes the coffee get its flavor. The appeal is because of “The unique processing, rare nature and mystery of the coffee have been causing the price increase. There is the ‘eww’ factor for some people; there is the ‘wow’ factor for others,” he says.

To read the study on the way of authenticating civet coffee read the online issue published on July 27 in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry .

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