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Coffee taste test pits pricey cat scat coffee against other brews | Arts & Culture

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Coffee taste test pits pricey cat scat coffee against other brews
Coffee taste test pits pricey cat scat coffee against other brews

HOLLAND, Mich.— Kopi Luwak coffee beans costs up to $600 pound, but is the taste worth the price?

That’s the question a panel of coffee experts attempted to answer during a blind taste test this week.  “The Great Kopi Luwak Cupping Challenge” unfolded at JPs Coffee and Espresso Bar in Holland.  Owner Jack Groot ran the test, pitting Kopi Luwak against other regional Sumatran coffees prices around $16 pound.

During the test, one Kopi Luwak sample rose to the top, scoring 76 points out of 100.  However, two of the less expensive, non-cat poop coffees ranked within a half-point of Kopi Luwak and the others were very close.

“It’s a very good coffee, but not worth $600 a pound.  If you bought it in a coffee shop, it would cost you $50 a cup,” said Andy Timko with Anodyne Coffee Roasters in Milwaukee.

“At $600 a pound, this is fools’ gold.  You are paying for the novelty of the coffee not the flavors,” added Johni Medeiros of Magnum Coffee Roasters in Nunica.

Kopi Luwak was made famous by the film “The Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  Its earthy flavors come from its unusual production process.  The coffee berries are eaten by Asian civet forest cats, partially digested then collected from their scat.

“There [are] all kinds of jokes about it,” said Groot. “It has been called ‘crappaccino’ and ‘crappy coffee.’ There’s another coffee called Black Ivory from Thailand that comes from elephant poop.”  

Groot says Kopi Luwak Nusantara of Indonesia was the only high-end coffee company to step up to the taste test challenge.  The judges included Allen Leibowitz, founder of Zingerman’s Coffee in Ann Arbor; John Medeiros of Magnum Coffee Roastery in Nunica; Andy Timko of Anodyne Coffee Roasters in Milwaukee, WI; John Gibbons of Uncommon Coffee Roasters in Saugatuck; Sam Mirto of Ferris Coffee and Nut in Grand Rapids; Justin DeWaard of Rowsters Coffee in Grand Rapids; and Nick Van Slett of JP’s Coffee and Midwest Barista School in Holland.

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