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

coffee, beverage, luwak, luak, kopi luwak, kopi luak, civet, palm civet

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.

dining, food, coffee, review, drink, beverage, gourmet

Coffee related WordPress themes

CoffeeSpot ThemeThe folks at WordPress Themes have posted a list of Coffee related WordPress themes and, naturally, the Caffeine theme is represented. I guess I’ll forgive them for misspelling my name. (They have since corrected my name, thanks Brian!)

Of the ones listed, my favorite (other than caffeine, of course) would have to be CoffeeSpot by Sadish Bala. Check out the other coffee themes at WordPress Themes.

coffee, caffeine, wordpress, blog, web

The Coffee Snob cold drip coffee maker review

The Coffee Snob cold drip coffee maker is yet another alternative to traditional drip or percolator coffee brewing. The beautiful device, which looks like belongs in a 19th century laboratory not a 21st century kitchen, slowly drips ice water through coffee grounds to make a concentrate similar to that made by the Toddy cold brew system. The coffee concentrate is then mixed down to your preferred strength and heated or served over ice.

Coffee Snob cold drip coffee makerThe theory as with other cold brew systems is to reduce undesirable oil and acidity extracted in the brewing process by using cold water. The end product, for better or worse, typically contains somewhat less caffeine as well. These are real benefits to people with a sensitivity to acid or who need to reduce their caffeine intake, but it is important to remember that there is still some caffeine present.

The coffee concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator and used to make a single cup at a time. This is the biggest advantage to this type of maker, especially to those who may be brewing a pot of coffee but may only drink one or two cups of it.

The process is different from other cold brew systems I have used. Instead of soaking the ground bean in water, water slowly (one drop per second) drips through the cup of grounds. A reusable cloth filter at the bottom of the grounds allows the coffee concentrate to drip down the amusingly twisted outlet tube and into the carafe.

The drip process is controlled by an easily adjusted valve at the bottom of the water reservoir. The use of ice, and a small amount of watter insures a slow brew using cold water throughout.

The brewing setup is easy but the brew will take many hours to complete (8 or more hours.) This is acceptable since the system makes a fair amount of concentrate in one brewing, but if you’re out of concentrate you can forget about that quick fix.

The only problem with brewing is where the coffee drips from the filter outlet to the carafe. Due to the height and open carafe there were coffee drops on the counter for two feet in every direction.

Cleanup (of both my counter and the Coffee Snob) was easy and the reusable filter is a big plus.

The results

The coffee concentrate is mixed with water to achieve your preferred strength. The ratio in the instructions (which I have lost since getting the unit) will result in a fairly weak coffee. I found a stronger mix of 1 to 2 parts water to 1 part concentrate to make a satisfying, somewhat strong American style coffee.

The resulting coffee is very good with considerably less acidity and with no bitterness at all. While some of the flavor and body of the coffee is still lost, the Coffee Snob creates a concentrate superior to the Toddy cold brew method.

The concentrate will also find uses in recipes and lattes and cappuccinos are easily made using the concentrate. Lattes and cappuccinos are different from the coffee shop fare as they lack the bitterness of a true espresso.

The Coffee Snob does require a fairly large amount of ground coffee for a modest amount of concentrate. This is typical to cold brew systems as less flavor is extracted with the cold system.


The Coffee Snob produces a very tasty cup of coffee with low acidity and little to no bitterness. While the brewing process takes some time, the resulting concentrate is convenient and ready to use.

The coffee is not as full-flavored as a traditional drip coffee and the cold brew system is less efficient in number of brewed cups per pound of coffee. These two factors keep the Coffee Snob from becoming my everyday brewer, but these are a small sacrifice for those with a sensitivity to acid.

Overall I would recommend the Coffee Snob to those who are sensitive to the acidity in coffee or those that are curious about cold-brew methods. The maker also offers the benefit of being a beautiful addition to any kitchen.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters – Coffee Review

Green Mountain Coffee RoasterGreen Mountain Coffee Roaster is a New England icon. Their coffee is served in everything from restaurant to gas station here in New England. Founded in 1981, today Green Mountain is the nation’s largest seller of double-certified Fair Trade organic coffee. Recently I had the opportunity to try two of Green Mountain’s Fair Trade Organic offerings.

Green Mountain’s Organic Sumatran Reserve is an appealing coffee with an earthy richness you could expect of an organic coffee from the beverage’s birthplace. This is a pleasant, medium bodied coffee which, while it doesn’t disappoint in the cup somehow left me wanting more. A decent floral nose is the highlight of this coffee and, though the flavor is somewhat earthy the aftertaste is clean and smooth.

The roaster’s PBS Blend is a Mexican coffee with an interesting story (see their site for details.) I found this coffee rather disappointing. While the coffee was smooth with very little acid and no bitterness it also lacked any defining flavor. A hint of caramel was all I could discern from what was otherwise a surprisingly ordinary cup of coffee.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has a large catalog of coffees. Through the gourmet coffee revolution they have become ubiquitous in New England and, while I was not impressed with the PBS Blend, the Organic Sumatran Reserve is a good coffee for those shopping for a Fair Trade organic coffee.

Unfortunately Green Mountain has adopted the all too common industry trend of cutting back their bag size. Currently their coffees are offered in 10oz bags, both of these being between $7 and $8 per bag on their website. This equates to around $12/lb which, while not unreasonable, is a premium price for coffee. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the coffee being Fair Trade, the end result of which is the farmer seeing more of this money.

Conclusions: Despite the premium price, those looking for a good organic coffee should enjoy the Organic Sumatran Reserve but a lack of richness or any defining flavor left me disappointed with the PBS blend.

dining, food, coffee