Food is a basic necessity of life, but some of these foods are not really what you would call basic. Right from coffee beans processed in the digestive tract of a wild cat to delicate spices grown only three months in a year – in this series of blog posts we tell you about food ingredients which are sought after for their exclusivity and the beautiful magic they create in your food, but also burn a huge hole in your pocket.
#1 – Kopi Luwak
The first ingredient on this list is something that most of us can’t begin our days without, yes coffee, but not just any ordinary coffee; we are talking about Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive and rarest coffee. The reason why it is numero uno on this list is not just because of its sky high prices, but because of the very interesting process of creating it.
It might be the world’s most exclusive brew ever, but its making does have a kind of repulsive charm attached to it. Exclusive to Sumatra in Indonesia, these coffee beans are processed in the weirdest way which gives it a slang – cat poo coffee.
Civet cats, which are raccoon like wild cats play a very important role in the production, final taste and aroma of this coffee. These cats feed on the sweetest and best coffee cherries from plantations, but are unable to process the beans which then come out along with the excreta. These beans are then collected, cleaned, roasted and processed to give you a coffee that costs around 40,000 Indian rupees per pound.
This process of picking coffee beans might seem gross but it is what gives it its brilliant flavour, musky aroma and also takes away much of the acidity that coffee is associated with. The reason for the fabulous taste of this coffee is because the cats pick out the best coffee cherries. Also, when these beans pass through the digestive tract of the civets they blend with enzymes that add to its characteristic taste and smell. The painstaking and rare method results in very small quantities of final processed coffee – just about 500 kilograms a year; the rarity is what puts this coffee on the list of most expensive ingredients across the globe.
The impeccable taste and high prices of the kopi luwak coffee, comes with its share of cons. The popularity and profitability of producing these coffee beans resulted in industrialization of the process and poaching and caging of the wild civets. This cruel treatment of civets faced much flak from animal rights activists and coffee loyalists alike. Not just is the breeding horrible for the wild cats, it also alters the taste of the coffee because the cats are often fed only the coffee cherries.
So if you ever get a chance to have a cup of kopi luwak make sure it is guaranteed wild. Also beware of the fakes as there are plenty in the market.
This very interesting story of the kopi luwak coffee is the first of the 10 out of budget ingredients on our list. Going forward we will share with more interesting stories, anecdotes and trivia on the most expensive food ingredients in the world! Watch this space to find out what’s next.
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