Using a metabolic approach, scientists in Japan say they have developed a system to verify the authenticity of kopi luwak coffee beans.
A team of researchers from Osaka University says the verification system uncovers “unique chemical fingerprints” that can show whether the beans were actually excreted from the Asian palm civet. The system can determine whether the beans are pure kopi luwak, a blend or neither.
Indeed, with kopi luwak selling online from anywhere from $200 to $10 per pound, the question of authenticity seems legitimate. However, the study in Japan makes no mention of the ethical implications of kopi luwak production, where widespread animal abuse has been reported.
Here is more from the study, published in July in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry:
Kopi Luwak, an exotic Indonesian coffee, is made from coffee berries that have been eaten by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). Despite being known as the world’s most expensive coffee, there is no reliable, standardized method for determining its authenticity. GC-MS-based multimarker profiling was employed to explore significant metabolites as discriminant markers for authentication. Extracts of 21 coffee beans (Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora) from three cultivation areas were analyzed and subjected to multivariate analyses, principal component analysis, and orthogonal projection to latent structures discriminant analysis. Citric acid, malic acid, and the inositol/pyroglutamic acid ratio were selected for further verification by evaluating their differentiating abilities against various commercial coffee products. The markers demonstrated potential application in the differentiation of original, fake Kopi Luwak, regular coffee, and coffee blend samples with 50 wt % Kopi Luwak content. This is the first report to address the selection and successful validation of discriminant markers for the authentication of Kopi Luwak.