The Olio Cafe Kopi Luwak Experience
I was unintentionally introduced to Kopi luwak by Jack Nicholson. Not so much personally but by way of the movie The Bucket List where Jack Nicholson’s character is an eccentric millionaire, living out the last days of his life and doing all the things on his “to do list” before he ‘kicks the bucket’. Jack’s cantankerous character carries with him a gold thermos from which he pours Kopi Luwak ~ the most expensive coffee in the world and sips at his leisure to satisfy his caffeine cravings.
I had to wonder, what does the most expensive coffee in the world taste like? and what’s the hype that surrounds this famed brew? Curiosity killed the cat and in this case the cat then pooped the coffee beans.
Kopi or coffee luwak attributes its superior smoothness and taste to what happens in the Indonesian jungles. The cat sized nocturnal animal, the Asian Civet , is a lover of fine sweet coffee cherries. Using its highly attuned nose, it sniffs out and then eats only the sweetest coffee cherries straight from the tree. As the coffee beans are passing through its digestive tract the combination of enzymes naturally occurring in its gut help to break down the bitter proteins in the bean. The beans remain in tact whilst on its digestive journey and even begins a slight fermentation or malting process that helps to mellow out and achieve Kopi luwak’s distinct smooth and syrupy texture.
The Civet is a ‘territorial shitter’ (never thought I’d have the need to write that in an article) which poops in clumps making bean collection for coffee farmers easier to manage. The poop is then picked up, thoroughly and might I add meticulously cleaned, before being air dried and ready for sale. And sell it does! For anywhere between US $200-$1,200 a kilo. The worlds rarest and most expensive coffee. I had to get me some of that!
Fortunately my taste-buds were soon to be appeased. Nicholas Aspros of Olio Cafe and bar in Sydney’s St. Leonard’s along with boutique roaster Sam Gabrielian of Caffe Di Gabriel have formed an alliance and are serving up some of this rare brew at even rarer prices.
Kopi luwak has been known to sell for up to $79USD a cup. With that sort of price being out of bounds for most coffee drinkers, Nicholas of Olio Cafe decided it was his mission to make great coffee accessible to a wider market. The Olio Cafe Kopi lewak experience is priced to clear at only $9.00 AU a cup!
Considering the rarity of this coffee, $9.00 Australian is a minuscule amount to pay for the Kopi Luwak Experience which consists of a shot glass of lime and ginger soda to cleanse the palate followed by a cup of lewak brew~ served preferably neat or with a shot of milk ala picillo style. If your not one to take your coffee as an espresso, the boys are more than happy to construct it into flat white or latte but advise against it as the milk does dilute the superior taste of the coffee.
You can either sip your luwak as is or they supply a special type of cane sugar for those of us that need a bit of sweetening. A delicious little petit four of chocolate, almond and ginger also awaits your dining pleasure. (recipe to accompany soon!)
Sam, the lovely Barista at Olio talks me through the process that goes into preparing the coffee machine for a luwak. First the machine, group head and areas surrounding the beans are washed down and cleaned. The group head is flushed with steaming water to remove any potential coffee grounds from the normal coffee supply. The Luwak beans sit majestically on the edge of the counter in there own private machine, where they are ground to order. The group heads are preheated before being filled with coffee grounds and extracted into small red espresso cups.
The delicious brew that awaits your taste buds has a smoothness that is velvety and rich with no hint of bitter aftertaste. Its ability to define itself on your palate leaves you wanting more than an espresso sized portion. Thankfully I wasnt supping alone and was able to enjoy some of 88’s picillo as well.
I have much to say about the merits of drinking such a delicious cup and when I’m only parting with a small amount of cash it makes for a more compelling story. My brief encounter with master roaster Sam Gabrielian was an inspirational journey through his love of all things coffee where he has commited his boutique roasting company to seeking out and sourcing some of the rarest and most unique coffee beans in the world.
With a supply of Kopi luwak only set to last for a couple more months, Sam and Nicholas have decided to continue selling rare brews and have a line up of fabulous coffees to keep the coffee afficiandos grinning. Mount Everest Supreme, Jamaican Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona are all on the coffee hit list and will be slowly rolled out at this St. Leonard’s oasis.
Olio Cafe and Bar is part of the Forum Center, Shop 1P1, 201-205 Pacific Highway, St. Leonard’s and are open Monday- Friday from 7am-9pm