Monday Blues: World's Most Expensive Coffee


Black Ivory Coffee (US$1,000/kg)

How is a kilogram of coffee even worth US$1,000/kilogram? It’s all part of a complex process, involving elephants consuming Arabica coffee beans, digested within 15 to 70 hours, and then having them collected from their waste. While the mere thought is a turn-off for many, the taste of the end product is said to be incomparable. Influenced by the digestive enzymes of the elephant, the coffee’s protein, which primarily accounts for its inherent bitterness, is broken down. The result is what has been often described as ‘very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee’. The coffee is not just outrageously expensive, but also severely scarce due to various factors including the availability of coffee cherries, the unpredictable appetite of the elephants and the uncontrollable possibility of having beans destroyed from chewing. Only a handful of luxury hotels around the world offer the lavish coffee, and at the price of US$50 a cup.

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Kopi Luwak (US$700/kg)

Also known as civet coffee, the Kopi Luwak is similar to the Black Ivory Coffee whereby the production of which involves the partially-digested coffee cherries derived from the Asian palm civet. The emphasis on product lies in the process of which, rather than its variety, Depending on whether its derivative was ‘farmed’ or ‘genuine’, where the former is regarded of a lower grade, prices are said to reach up to US$700 per kilogram. The farmed variety costs an average of about five times the price of high quality local Arabica coffee, at US$100 per kilogram. Despite its popularity in London and New York, where a cup could sell for US$30 to US$100 based on a report by TIME, controversy surrounds the veracity of actual kopi luwak, where its authenticity can be hard to verify. Further investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia also discovered the high incidence of fraud surrounding the Kopi Luwak industry, with a BBC investigation supporting these findings. Petitions have also been launched to boycott Kopi Luwak, including social media campaign ‘Kopi Luwak: Cut the Crap’ after horrific animal abuse was reportedly witnessed in the production of the beans.

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