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The History behind Kopi Luwak, The World’s Expensive Coffee

As coffee entrepreneurs, you must be familiar with Kopi Luwak, the world’s expensive coffee that originated from Indonesia, a very beautiful archipelago country in Southeast Asia. Besides being admired by the world for its natural beauty and extraordinary cultural wealth, Indonesia is also among the world’s leading coffee producing and exporting countries. One of the most famous is obviously Kopi Luwak, which has now become the world’s expensive coffee that is highly sought after by coffee connoisseurs around the globe. And it is not just that. Kopi Luwak is now a luxury drink. Drinking a cup of Kopi Luwak or buying the most expensive Kopi Luwak beans on the market has been something the rich and famous do, to maintain their pride and boast on their wealth.

 world’s expensive coffee

Yet before becoming the world’s expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak came from a very modest background. The history dates back to the eighteenth century, when Sumatra and Java were still belonged to the Dutch colonial empire. Dutch colonialists began to establish coffee plantations in Indonesia and imported Arabica coffee beans from the Arabian Peninsula. In 1711 the first coffee exports began shipping to Europe, and Indonesia became the first place outside of Arabia & Ethiopia where coffee was widely grown. In 1830, the Dutch colonial government established “cultuurstelsel” or The Cultivation System. The goal of this system was to increase exploitation of Indonesian resources. As part of these efforts, new laws have been drafted to allow Dutch plantation owners to prohibit native coffee farmers from picking any fruits of their labor for personal consumption.

However, the locals began to notice that wild civets also ate the coffee cherries they harvested. They found excreted coffee beans in the civets’ droppings. In desperation and duress, the farmers started foraging for these droppings, which were later cleaned and processed as any other coffee. What they didn’t realize was that they had brilliantly created a unique specialty coffee, which is going to be one of the most sought-after coffees in the world. So, this is how ingenuous Kopi Luwak was created. The world’s expensive coffee was born out of human desperation to enjoy a good cup of coffee, a privilege that was taken away from them at the time.

As time went by, Dutch overlords started questioning the local people where they got their coffee. They explained how Kopi Luwak was made. The unique flavor and aroma of Kopi Luwak soon caught on with the owners of Dutch plantations, thus it quickly became popular and sought after. Its popularity continued to spread across the region, and it didn’t take long for the coffee bean to be exported to Europe.

In 1991, a gentleman by the name of Tony Wild travelled to Indonesia and was introduced to Kopi Luwak, which he brought home with him to the UK. The fascinating story of how the coffee is processed quickly spread, and by 2003 it was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show. Kopi Luwak was in the limelight once again, and in 2007 was made even more famous in Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman’s movie The Bucket List.

This is the incredible story behind Kopi Luwak. It is almost unbelievable that from a very humble background, Kopi Luwak has now become the world’s expensive coffee, a luxury drink that is loved –and sometimes hated– by coffee connoisseurs around the world.

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