Making Sure Your Kopi Luwak Coffee Is The Real Sh--

Kopi Luwak beans
Kopi Luwak beans
Flickr/Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"The methods currently employed by Kopi Luwak [Indonesian for civet coffee] producers is sensory analysis including visual and olfactory testing, both of which are inadequate," the researchers say. "For example, visual examination is only possible for green coffee beans prior to roasting, and very few trained experts can perform the highly subjective sensory analysis to discriminate Kopi Luwak." In other words, right now experts can only use their noses and eyes to determine if coffee beans came out of a civet's butt (the process is said to make the beans smoother and to change their color somewhat).

The scientists say they have found a "metabolic footprint" that allows them to verify real Kopi Luwak. The unique chemical fingerprint reflects higher levels of citric acid and malic acid as well as unique ratios of other acids. This fingerprint is the result of the chemical process of digestion and can be detected by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Using this process, the scientists were able to tell the difference between real civet coffee, "regular" coffee, fake civet coffee, and even a half-civet, half-regular blend.

Researcher Eiichiro Fukusaki, a professor in the biotechnology department at Osaka University in Japan, says the method of authenticating the coffee could eventually be widely used, after some technical improvements are made. It could even tell if regular coffee beans had been "watered down" by throwing some Kopi Luwak beans in there.

But if you prefer your coffee poop-free to begin with, you have nothing to worry about.

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