The World’s Most Expensive Coffee

Do you love coffee? How much are you willing to pay for it? The world’s most expensive coffee comes from Indonesia and involves a civet cat, while the priciest single cup of java could set you back nearly $1000. Why the high price tags?

Known as kopi luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee is notable due to the strange process the beans go through. The civet cat, native to Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Sulawesi, eat coffee cherries and then defecate them. The beans are now partially-digested. The story goes that while cashing in on local coffee, the Dutch forbade native farmers from picking any coffee fruit for themselves. The farmers instead found undigested coffee beans in civet cat poop, which they cleaned, roasted, and ground. The result? An extremely-aromatic coffee free from bitterness. To this day, kopi luwak coffee is expensive because the process is so unusual and there’s a relatively short supply compared to the demand.

Photo: Ato 01/Wikimedia

Animal cruelty is a big issue. Civet cats are often caged and force-fed beans. When selecting your kopi luwak, be sure that it was produced sustainably and without cruelty. There are also artificially-generated versions of kopi luwak. What about the actual taste? Coffee-industry experts view kopi luwak as a gimmick and say it doesn’t even taste good. If you want to find out for yourself, expect to pay $100-$500 per pound. On Amazon, you can buy a whole-bean, 3.5-ounce bag for $26.

If the idea of cat-poop coffee doesn’t appeal to you, what about aged coffee? In Japan, head over to Osaka’s The Münch, which is run by Kanji Tanaka. Years ago, he stumbled upon an iced coffee he had forgotten about and discovered it had been stored there for 6 years. He tasted it, and decided there was something special about it. He ended up aging beans for over two decades, creating an almost-intoxicating, smooth coffee that goes through a very slow dripping process before reaching your cup. It costs $900, so it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Osaka, Japan