Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Research Explains Structure, Taste of Kopi Luwak Coffee


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:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New supercomputer simulations enhance understanding of protein motion and function
24.11.2015 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

nachricht Sensor sees nerve action as it happens
24.11.2015 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

Im Focus: Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

Berkeley Lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Siemens Healthcare introduces the Cios family of mobile C-arms

20.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens offers concrete solution portfolio for Industrie 4.0 with Digital Enterprise

24.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Compact, rugged, three-phase power supplies for worldwide use

24.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Sensor sees nerve action as it happens

24.11.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>