WASHINGTON: Scientists have developed the first-ever method that can determine whether the world's most expensive coffee - made from beans pooped out by a Southeast Asian animal - is authentic.
Kopi Luwak (Indonesian for "civet coffee") is the world's costliest coffee, often fetching USD 150 to USD 200 per pound.
Palm civets eat coffee berries, digest the soft fruit surrounding the bean and excrete the bean. Workers retrieve the coffee beans and clean, ferment and roast them.
The price makes Kopi Luwak a tempting target for fraud, with ordinary coffee sold as Kopi Luwak or real Kopi Luwak adulterated with cheap beans.
Researchers in the study, published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, decided to find a way to scientifically identify the real deal.
They describe identifying unique chemical fingerprints that can be used to identify authentic Kopi Luwak and distinguish pure Kopi Luwak from Kopi Luwak that has been mixed with cheaper coffee.
"This is the first report to address the selection and successful validation of discriminant markers for the authentication of Kopi Luwak," the scientists said.