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January 17, 2010 2:31 PM   Subscribe

What coffee is most like Kopi Luwak?

I got a bag of Kopi Luwak for Christmas. It's very good. Not as bitter as regular coffee.

Still, it's $30 for a pretty small bag. Plus, I read it's 50/50 whether or not it's even the real thing.

So, what coffee tastes most like Kopi Luwak without the sticker price?
posted by atchafalaya to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is what you want. Mild and sweet and a hell of a lot more interesting than Kopi Luwak. French press freshly ground for best results.
posted by voronoi at 3:12 PM on January 17, 2010

I've never had Kopi Luwak, but this article describes it as heavy-bodied and earthy:
It has earthy tones of natural processed Sumatra Mandheling.
which makes sense considering the location and the fact that the animal's digestion might be something like dry-processing (where the beans are left to ferment naturally).

So, you could try some good Sumatran coffee and see how it measures up. Maybe also try something Ethiopian like Yirgacheffe which I've also heard described as syrupy.
posted by cabingirl at 3:14 PM on January 17, 2010

I don't want to be the kind of person who just throws up Wikipedia links, but the Kopi Luwak simulation article seems too thorough for me to ignore.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:47 PM on January 17, 2010

If you want less bitter coffee find a place that does a lighter roast with quality beans. Dark roasts are a great way to make crappy coffee beans into mediocre coffee, so people who aren't used to good coffee have confused dark, burnt roasts with quality coffee.
posted by aspo at 7:01 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sumatra is generally pretty close; low acidity, dark, and earthy without the bitterness associated with darker roasts.

Fresh roasted beans are important - you're in LA so there must be places that sample and import beans and roast in-house who know what they're doing. A local place (in Vancouver, Canada) has a Guatamalan (not even 'estate') roast that's as-good-as or better than Blue Mountain that a local-ish chain-ish place sells, for a fraction of the price.

The name of the coffee (or where it's from; if you like lighter, Tanzanian peaberry is a strong but light bean that's less bitter yet fills the tongue, Kenyan AA is a big bean that tends to be roasted dark but had a lighter profile with very low acidity) isn't a reliable indication of whether it will be good or not (Starbucks dark Sumatra? Bitter vinegary garbage. The dark Sumatra from Yoka? It's like my fairy godmother is making sure that I start my day well.

Also, how you make the coffee can decrease the bitterness; if you're doing drip, don't let the coffee get/stay too hot. If you're using a press, don't wait too long before pressing a decanting. Turn off the heating element in a standard "coffee pot" as soon as the coffee is done brewing - never let coffee stay on heat after it's entered the pot.
posted by porpoise at 10:54 PM on January 17, 2010

To be honest I can't recall drinking any other coffee that tastes that much like Kopi Luwak (and I understand that KL is usually robusta, rather than the arabica beans that represents 99% of high end coffee, which doesn't help).

Having said that, I recall the flavour to be dark, earthy and a bit funky. Other coffees with similar characteristics (at least the dark and earthy ones) would tend to be Indonesian, as others have said. You may also like to try monsooned malabar, which has those funky characteristics in spades.

I suspect you won't find the african or central american suggestions (which can tend to be bright and light bodied) to be too similar.
posted by bifter at 1:14 AM on January 18, 2010

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