Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Research Explains Structure, Taste of Kopi Luwak Coffee

27.07.2004


When a Kopi Luwak coffee bean, the world’s most expensive coffee, comes out the other end of a large cat after it’s been eaten by the animal – called a civet or Luwak – the micro-structural properties of the beans are altered, according to new research by a University of Guelph scientist published in Food Research International.



They’re harder, more brittle and darker in colour than the same type of bean that hasn’t been eaten and digested by the three- to 10-pound tree-climbing animal found in Ethiopia and Indonesia. “The changes in the beans show that during transit through the civet’s GI track, various digestive biochemicals are actually penetrating the outer coffee cherry and reaching the actual bean surface, where a chemical colour change takes place,” said Massimo Marcone, author of “Composition and properties of Indonesian palm civet coffee (Kopi Luwak) and Ethiopian civet coffee.” Marcone is an adjunct professor in the Department of Food Science.

Marcone travelled to Ethiopia and Indonesia in 2003 to collect the rare coffee beans that cost $600 a pound. “During the night, the civet uses its eyesight and smell to seek out and eat only the ripest coffee cherries,” he said. “The coffee cherry fruit is completely digested by the Luwak, but the beans are excreted in their feces.”


The internal fermentation by digestive enzymes adds a unique flavour to the beans, which Marcone said has been described as “earthy, musty, syrupy, smooth and rich with jungle and chocolate undertones.”

Since people are paying $50 for each cup of Kopi Luwak, he wanted to determine whether or not they are actually getting a different kind of coffee. In addition to the differences in size, colour and hardness of the bean, he found that the lack of protein in the bean results in its superior taste.

“The civet beans are lower in total protein, indicating that during digestion, proteins are being broken down and are also leached out of the bean,” said Marcone. “Since proteins are what make coffee bitter during the roasting process, the lower levels of proteins decrease the bitterness of Kopi Luwak coffee.”

In the coffee industry, wet processed or fermented coffees are known to have superior flavour to dry-processed coffee, he said. “When coffee cherries are processed through the digestive track, they actually undergo a type of wet processing due to acidification in the stomach and fermentation due to the natural intestinal microflora. Lactic acid bacteria are preferred in wet processing systems. Lactic acid bacteria happen to be major colonizing bacteria in the civet’s digestive track.” The unique Kopi Luwak flavour could be due to the type of wet process the beans undergo in the animal’s digestive tracks, he said.

Although certified blinded human tasters could find little difference in the overall flavour and aroma of the beans, an electronic nose machine could detect that the aroma of the civet coffee beans is also affected.

So it tastes good, but is the coffee, having travelled trough an animal’s digestive track, safe to drink? Marcone found that although civet coffee beans are significantly more contaminated than regular beans, the civet beans on the market are actually quite clean. “Civet beans are typically extensively washed under running water after collection, which dislodges bacteria,” he said.

Marcone has also studied more common foods that have been processed through a living creature’s digestive track, including honey, edible birds’ nests and argan oil.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.uoguelph.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>