Kopi Luwak is Back! Well, Sort of…
If you thought Kopi Luwak was disgusting, wait, there’s more! Introducing the Jacu bird into this family of pre-processed coffee should add an interesting avian flair to your mornings. In September of 2006, I wrote about the fascinating Kopi Luwak coffee beans.
An extremely rare coffee due to the fact that the beans are first processed through the intestinal track of a palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). This raccoon like animal has a sickly-sweet odor reminiscent of a striped skunk and loves the cherry like fruit that covers the coffee bean. Yes, ingested and deposited shortly thereafter, the beans are ripe for the picking. Once thought as a pest to the crop, these critters are now welcomed friends. Coffee pickers comb the civet’s droppings for the berries and remove the husk. These yummy, choice beans are thoroughly washed, in other words, decrappinated, then roasted and ready for the brew. Oh boy, an aromatic brew it would be.
Why leave all of the glory for a palm civet; birds can do an excellent job of picking the ripe coffee cherries too. Whereas the civet in Indonesia eats the lower quality Robusta coffee beans, the Jacu bird is a native of South America and enjoys the high quality Arabica coffee beans of Brazil. The theory is this: if the bird eats only the ripest, tastiest berries then the little piles of beans it excretes for us as a present should all be uniform, high quality, ripe beans. The farms simply collect these piles, wash the beans, and package them up for us.
In the case of the palm civet, they say that it imparts a unique earthy flavor to the passing coffee beans. However, they say the Jacu bird leaves almost no lingering flavor on the beans. Many people who have tasted this coffee say it is a very pleasing cup of a smooth, balanced Brazilian coffee. One swirled it around in his mouth, looking for the hints or subtle notes of bird excrement, and yet found nothing other than the typical, earthy Brazilian flavor. This coffee is only available by special order and so would most likely be freshly roasted to order. It’s not just an ordinary crappy cup of coffee.
Jacu Bird by Jose Roitberg
The Kopi Luwak has sold at prices up to $300 per pound, so at around $12 per pound the Jacu bird is passing on the savings. If you are daring, invite some friends over and let them compare some crappy beans to the store bought varieties. Think how good you’ll feel as you’re helping the wildlife in South America. Sure, we want to support the bird-friendly coffee movement, but is this going to too far?
I have never been game for drinking coffee that has been recycled through a small, furry animal, and I don’t think I’m up to trying it through a Jacu bird either. Maybe I’m just not daring enough. A crappuccino anyone? Hmm, which is better: civet dung or bird poop? Or maybe the choice is not so difficult after all. Neither!