By Barbara Bishop
I met few business associates at a very low-key coffee/tea shop the other day in Santa Monica. It’s right next to the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. I was the first one there, and grabbed a place in the back of the smallish area, complete with wood tables, wireless access and strewn-about tables and chairs, some with groups of people, and others by themselves.
A typical coffee shop feel. But, the minute I got the menu, I knew this was not your typical place. I perused the multitude of selections with great interest. The coffee and teas offerings were like a wine list; with prices to match.
Options were a wide selection of unique single-estate coffees from around the world, including the (in)famous Kopi Luwak, which is regarded by many to be the best coffee in the world.
Kopi Luwak comes from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, an area well-known for its excellent coffee. Also native to the area is a small civet-like animal called a Paradoxurus. That’s the scientific name, but the locals called them Luwaks.
These little mammals live in the trees and one of their favorite foods is the red, ripe coffee cherry. They eat the cherries, beans and all. While the beans are in the Luwak’s stomach, they undergo chemical treatments and fermentations.
The beans finish the journey through the digestive system, and exit. The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then medium-roasted and ground just like any other coffee.
The resulting coffee is said to be like no other. It has a rich, heavy flavor with hints of caramel and chocolate. Other terms used to describe it are earthy, aromatic, sweet and exotic.
The average total annual production is only around 100 pounds of beans. Because of the rarity of this coffee, the price is outrageous. The current cost for a pound of Kopi Luwak is around $1,000 or more, and $120 a cup!
Others are almost as exotic, and much less expensive, ranging from $4.50 a cup to $35 a cup. All are single-estate, and are either organic or biodynamic. Biodynamic? Huh?
The principles and practices of biodynamic agriculture is based on the philosophy of Anthroposophy, which includes understanding the ecological, the energetic and the spiritual in nature. Woo woo coffee. I love it.
For $9 a cup, you can have the BioDynamic Fazenda Deterra Magnum Reserve #2. It’s from Deterra Brazil. This complex rare coffee is noted for its undertones of light fruity sweetness in the aroma. Smooth delicate rye bread earth tones mixed another delicately complex flavor of almond and dried cherries with hints of wine and semi-sweet chocolate. Annually total production of the green bean crops is less than 500 lbs.
What do you get for $35 a cup? I was curious. A Jamaican Blue Mountain #2;
a seasonal single estate organic coffee. Wow! What a coffee. Like no other coffee you have ever tasted. Famous for its smooth rich flavor, full body, and pleasant acidity. Jamaica Blue Mountain has a clean, refined taste and fragrant aroma. Meticulously grown in the heart of the Blue Mountain region, this exclusive estate-grown coffee yields an exquisite, rare and exceptional beverage. They owner suggested that it makes a wonderful gift. Wonder if it comes in a pod…
In the words of a Yelp reviewer, “Sometimes you just get a hankering for a glass of 1990 Cristal, or a leisurely drive through the countryside in an Aston Martin Vanquish, and sometimes – but only when you’re really feeling saucy – you might just have a craving for a siphon-drip cup o’ Kopi Luwak.” Now, that’s Good Taste!
Funnel Mill Rare Coffee and Tea
930 Broadway Suite A
Santa Monica, CA