Novelty Coffees

Have you ever wondered about all these exotic coffees people talk about as treasures that only the boldest coffee maniac or wealthiest coffee connoisseur could afford? Well, if so let me provide an overview of the overrated.

St. Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Central Atlantic which was once the exiled home of Napoleon boasts some extremely rare and frankly beautiful coffee I've been lucky enough to taste twice. The current price for this coffee is around $85-100/lb.

Jamaica Blue Mountain has cache that extends to the high streets of Tokyo and outlandish prices based on scarcity and supposedly great flavor. In twenty or so cuppings of all the famous estates I've tasted one sample that actually didn't possess a fundamental processing defect. JBM sells for about $50/lb.

The Hawaiian Islands are a whole different story. Resplendent was scandal and counterfeit green coffee, the best Kona coffees may be described as mild, soft, nutty, and forgettable. Other Island coffee can be occasionally interesting but low altitudes and weather patterns often yield peanutty, rough flavors which populate gift shops when flavored with vile nut syrups and flavorings. Prices range from $10-50/lb.

Perhaps the unholiest of coffee grails however comes from the Indonesian Island of Sumatra where a civet, or cat of sorts called a luwak, is "trained" to eat coffee cherries, digest and excrete them into some lucky collectors hands. The coffee is cleaned, dried and eventually sold as Kopi Luwak, luwak coffee in Bahasa. It is a recent tasting of this coffee that prompts this missive. The coffee is oddly clean and acidy with some notes of spice and earthiness similar to what one finds in a typical Sumatra coffee.

There is really nothing pleasant or unpleasant about Kopi Luwak. It's weird and unusual in its origin like many things we eat and drink. Good, genuine luwak (don't ask me to define genuine please) sells for $100+/lb.

All these coffees are fun and novel to try but I'd suggest spending your money on a really nice Kenya from Nyeri, Guatemala from Antigua or Sumatra from Lake Toba.



Scott McMartinComment