LA Times article on Luwak Coffee

Luwak Coffee, the rare beverage made from beans found in the droppings of the palm civet, has become a perennial topic in popular media these days, but Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times has written an outstanding article on the coffee.

A hungry luwakWatson highlights many of the concerns around Luwak coffee, which can fetch prices of up to $600 per pound.

Human hands don’t harvest the beans that make this rare brew. They’re plucked by the sharp claws and fangs of wild civets, catlike beasts with bug eyes and weaselly noses that love their coffee fresh.

They move at night, creeping along the limbs of robusta and hybrid arabusta trees, sniffing out sweet red coffee cherries and selecting only the tastiest. After chewing off the fruity exterior, they swallow the hard innards.

Beyond the unusual process it takes to create the coffee, Watson also mentions the love/hate relationship coffee farmers have with this animal, which can do serious damage to many crops, not just coffee. He also mentions that civets, which can grow to over 100 pounds and are themselves fairly tasty are often killed for food.

Watson quotes Canadian food scientist Massimo Marcone about the authenticity of the luwak coffee on the market and offers a description of authentic luwak coffee which echoes my review of the kopi luwak from

“About 42% of all the kopi luwaks that are presently on sale are either adulterated or complete fakes, unfortunately,” he said.

Real kopi luwak has a top note of rich, dark chocolate, with secondary notes that are musty and earthy, the scientist said. An Indonesian coffee lover described the scent as the smell of moist earth after a rainfall, with hints of vanilla, that teases the palate for hours after the cup is empty.

Check out Watson’s full article on the LA times website. I have never seen a more complete article about luwak coffee.

Via Don Burleson

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White Mountain Gourmet Coffee – Coffee Review

White Mountain Gourmet CoffeeWhite Mountain Gourmet Coffee is a small coffee roaster in New Hampshire and since one of their cafes is local to me in Concord I decided to give them a try.

The cafe is well stocked with White Mountain coffee and has a full espresso bar, some food and a fair amount of seating. I picked out a couple coffees I wanted to try and asked the worker at the cafe to suggest a couple more. Service was good and I was ready to try out their coffee with 4 half-pound bags of single-origin coffee.

The first of White Mountain’s coffees I tried was their El Salvador Peaberry. This is a pleasant, full bodied coffee with a sweet flavor. Though not overly complex this coffee is very pleasant in the cup and has a nice long finish.

The Zimbabwe AA was also rich and flavorful. Somewhat more complex than the El Salvador this coffee has some brighter tones and good depth. Another rich, full-bodied offering, the Sumatra Mandheling had little acidity and a clean finish.

White Mountain’s Papua New Guinea is a nice, slightly earthy coffee. This coffee’s slight acidity is pleasantly balanced by a sweet flavor.

I specifically sought out rich, full bodied coffees to try, but all of my trials were regular roast. I found the regular roast to make a sufficiently rich coffee, but most of their coffees are offered as a dark roast as well. White Mountain has a long list of single-origin, blended and flavored coffees but my preference, as reflected in my sampling choices is to the single-origin.

All the coffees I tried from White Mountain Gourmet Coffee were excellent and I look forward to trying more of their offerings. While I am fortunate enough to be near one of their cafes White Mountain coffee is also available via mail order from their website.

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Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System

So if you’re a frequent reader you may have noticed that most of my reviews are positive. It’s not because I like everything I get, see, hear and read, just that I’m far more inspired to write about something I like than something I don’t. In the case of the Toddy Cold Brew system I am making an exception to this rule in order to review a truly disappointing brewing method.

The Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System website claims “The Toddy coffee maker extracts the coffee bean’s true delicious flavor and eliminates much of the acidity, producing a bold, super-smooth coffee that can be served one cup at a time.” The site also boasts a long list of positive reviews. The Washington Post has even called it “the ultimate coffee maker” but my experience with it was quite the opposite.

Toddy Coffee MakerThe theory is by brewing coffee with cold water you will extract less acidity and bitterness resulting in a superior cup of coffee. The system makes a concentrate from a full pound of coffee which can then be stored and prepared one cup at a time. With the convenience of working with the concentrate the system is also supposed to save coffee since you can make only as much as you need eliminating leftover coffee.

The allure of more convenient, better tasting coffee got the best of me and, after reading all the reviews I could find I decided to order a Toddy Cold Brew System directly from their website. A few days later it arrived.

The system consists of a large funnel, a carafe, and round, thick filters. To make the coffee concentrate you place a plug in the small hole in the funnel, place a filter in the inside holder and put a full pound of ground coffee in the funnel. You then add nine cups of cold water to the coffee grounds and let the mixture sit for twelve hours. After the brewing time you pull the plug and let the coffee drain into the carafe. To serve the directions recommend diluting the concentrate with three parts water to one part concentrate and heat.

I used the Toddy system for several weeks. I tried quite a few different coffees, a couple different grind sizes and varied the brew time according to the included instructions.

The results

After dozens of cups I was very disappointed with the results from the Toddy system. While the claim of low acidity held true the flavor was bland and the body absent. Hot or cold the only way I could make a nearly acceptable cup of coffee was to mix the concentrate closer to one to one. Mixing the concentrate this strong resulted in less than 10 mugs of coffee per pound of coffee, causing a huge waste compared to drip brewing. All other variables did little to improve the bland flavor.


If you’re hyper-sensitive to acid in your foods the Toddy Cold Brew System may enable you to drink coffee without discomfort. If you’re looking for a better cup of coffee, look elsewhere. Drip, press, espresso, vacuum, even percolator brewing all produce a much more satisfying coffee than the cold brew system.

What this system offers in convenience and simplicity it sacrifices in flavor. The $34.95 spent on this maker would be better put to a good quality drip coffee maker.

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