Coffee over cocktails

Financial discipline means not spending unnecessarily,” said a colleague of mine, as we were waiting for our coffee at Kafe Kopi Luwak, in Kochi. The reason for her preachiness was that I had just ordered one of the world’s most expensive coffees—Kopi Luwak. Or, civet coffee. Now, if you are wondering what a civet (a cat-like mammal) has to do with my coffee, the answer is, in this case, quite a lot.

Civets feed on ripe coffee cherries and excrete the seeds. These are picked up from their droppings, cleaned (thoroughly) and processed into coffee which costs about $700 (more than Rs 45,000) per kg. Some alchemy that happens in the civet’s digestive system is supposed give this coffee a unique character.

So, just how expensive was it? A cup of it cost me Rs 1,600! Just to be clear, I usually find it difficult to come up with Rs 12 for my coffee on most days. But, I was possessed. Some unknown force was driving me to be reckless. I reasoned that Rs 1,600 is just about what I would spend on three cocktails at my favourite resto-bar. So, I sacrificed cocktails for coffee.

It looked good. Sophisticated enough. Brewed in a French press, and served in a white coffee mug with a kingly symbol. It was to be taken without milk, sugar or cream to enjoy the “special flavour”. I took a measured first sip. It was strong. But, the bitter taste that is usual for strong coffee was absent. The civet’s doing, perhaps. I forgot about the cost (three cocktails) and started enjoying the subtleties of the coffee—the aroma, the sweet aftertaste and the texture. And, it was over. The cup could only hold so much, you see.

Immediately after finishing the coffee, I felt lightheaded. But, that may be because I was hungry. My wallet was definitely lighter. So, what did I gain? I would say, a fun experience. Now, on the lookout for black ivory coffee. It is almost twice as expensive as civet coffee, and is made from beans retrieved
from elephant dung.