Kopi Luwak put to the test in the US

The famed Kopi Luwak has been put to the test against other conventionally processed coffees from the same region in a blind cupping session in the US and has been found wanting. Seven cuppers – all experienced coffee professionals, with one certified Q-grader among them – sampled five Sumatran coffees, with two varieties of Kopi Luwak among them, as well as one control coffee in a session that was run in rough accordance with the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s cupping protocol. The Kopi Luwak samples – made from coffee beans that have been partially digested by the Asian palm civet and as a result command prices of up to US$600 per pound – ranked first and fourth out of the six samples. However, each of the five genuine coffees achieved scores within seven points of each other, with the top-ranking Sumatra Kopi Luwak Gayo only outranking the second-placed Sumatra Dolok Sanggul by 0.6 points. Interestingly, none of the coffees cupped at the session, which was run by Jack Groot at JP’s Coffee and Espresso Bar in Holland, Michigan, scored an average of 80 or more, which is the baseline score for specialty coffees. The challenge was set by Groot, who had earlier stated that “Anyone who thinks that US$600 a pound coffee is US$586 better tasting than my excellent Sumatra Mandheling is either stupid, lying or both.” After the challenge, Groot had this to say: “How do I follow up my bold and brash statements? Well, I believe I am proved right. The two Kopis scored at or lower than two other very good Sumatra coffees from the same region. It was a statistical dead heat.” The final average scores from the session were: Sumatra Kopi Luwak Gayo Aceh (civet digestion): 78.2
Sumatra Dolok Sanggul (wet hulled): 77.6
Sumatra Wahana Estate (dry processed): 75.4
Sumatra Kopi Luwak Lintong North Sumatra (civet digestion): 72.1
Sumatra Silimakuta (wet hulled): 71.5

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