Is This $38 Cup of Coffee Worth The Price Tag?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this cat-shit coffee is cruelty-free cat-shit coffee. And delicious.
By Lyndon Conrad Bell
It felt like I was in a cartoon, as if the seductive aroma wafting toward me was pulling me closer to the golden-brown stream that flowed into the cup. The vibrant fragrance of ripe dark fruit, somewhat floral in nature, was accented by an intoxicatingly rich scent of cocoa. I was compelled to sip the steaming-hot liquid.
True luxury is more about experience than expense, some say. Long after the price is forgotten, the experience remains. This realization inspired chef Bryan-David Scott to create the world’s first collection of 100-point five-star coffees. To get there, he assembled a cadre of 34 world-class chefs, sommeliers and coffee connoisseurs to create his Cup of Luxury line, designed for “the elite coffee aficionado,” Scott says. Only an estimated 20 percent of coffee harvested in the world qualifies as specialty grade, he adds, noting that Cup of Luxury coffees “are comprised of the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the specialty grade.”
In other words, this ain’t no cheap cup of joe.
A warm floral brightness immediately washed over my palate, followed by the flavor of delicious milk chocolate …
The heady brew Scott set before me, known as kopi luwak, sells for $1,396 … a pound. This works out to roughly $38.77 per 8-ounce cup. Those of you familiar with the name are probably already aware that kopi luwak is also known as cat-shit coffee. The beans have passed through the digestive tract of an Asian palm civet, a weasel-like creature fond of coffee berries. (Scott assures me that all of his coffees are hand-washed prior to export.) This kopi luwak has been harvested from the droppings of free-roaming wild civets on a coffee plantation in Gayo Sumatra, a necessary distinction — with this kind of cash in play, many try to maximize yields by caging civets and force-feeding them.
To prove his kopi is indeed cruelty-free, Scott invited me to join him on a hike through lush Sumatran jungle to gather civet droppings with the foragers. Fun times, I’m sure, but comfortably ensconced in Scott’s Sonoma tasting room, a 17-mile hike through the Sumatran jungle held very little appeal for me. Duly reassured I wasn’t about to sip from a piping-hot cup of animal brutality, I drank.
Naturally, the only way to take it is black. A warm floral brightness immediately washed over my palate, followed by the flavor of delicious milk chocolate, which was then supported by pronounced undertones of fruitiness. Next, a specific velvetiness emerged, along with a lingering finish completely devoid of bitterness.
If you want to sample the Cup of Luxury line, you need to order the coffee online and brew it at home. And membership, like the coffee, is not cheap. Joining Scott’s Luxury Coffee Club requires shelling out $5,995 — annually. Membership is limited to 1,800 people, each of whom receives 24 bags of Scott’s specialty coffees a year. Be aware, though, that due to its limited availability, kopi luwak is sold individually, not included in the membership.
But really, I think it’s worth it. After sampling the brew, I could only blink and say, “Damn, Chef. Starbucks has been holding out on us big-time!” Erupting with laughter, Scott replied: “Yeah, man, they really have.”
- Lyndon Conrad Bell, OZY Author Contact Lyndon Conrad Bell