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The Call of Coffee

Posted on July 13, 2014 | No Comments on The Call of Coffee

Coffee, the drink of choice of office workers, security personnel, telephone operators and, in recent years, call center agents. From the big bosses on the penthouse to the ordinary employees in the basement, they say coffee keeps them on their feet, awake, active and alert – the triple A of beverage refreshment.

The emergence, popularity and necessity for 24-hour jobs in the cyberage has brought about the proliferation of many kinds of coffees, from the simple home-brewed barako to the herbal coffee with mushroom extract, to the so-called kape alamid, the world’s most expensive coffee, and every different teaspoonfuls in between.

Man’s Favorite Drink
Coffee is a popular beverage made from the seeds or beans of an evergreen shrub of the genus Gaffes. Legends indicate that the discovery of coffee as a beverage occurred in the Arabian region prior to the 13th century. One story relates that an Arabian mullah observed goats browsing on the leaves and fruits of the shrub and then gamboling excitedly over the hillsides. He gave an infusion to his monks to keep them awake during evening devotions.

Most Expensve

It’s rare, exotic, very expensive, and you’ll find it only on the forest grounds of the Philippines, Sulawesi, Java and Sumatra. Yes, grounds! Well it’s coffee bean, but you don’t get it directly from the trees. It’s sore of gone through the process of digestion.

It’s called civet coffee or kape alamid. It is called by this name because the coffee berries are eaten by the civets and after fermenting in their stomach, they end up as droppings in the thick undergrowth of forest grounds.
The civets, particularly, the Asian Palm Civet (Paradaxurus hermaphroditus) are nocturnal cat-like mammals. Known locally as alamici, civets are carnivorous but they also have a taste for the sweet, red coffee berries. They eat the berries but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. It is believed that enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee’s flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are excreted still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as not to destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process.

They’re civet droppings, but are worth their weight in gold. In the Philippines, only 500 kilograms are produced a year and the roasted beans sell from 100 to 600 dollars a kilogram. The Philippine’s Kape alamid and its Indonesian counterpart, Kopi Luwak, are exported mainly to Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia and the United States, but it is increasingly becoming available elsewhere. It is the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee.

Antonio Reyes of the Philippine coffee certifying board said civet coffee is ono of the Philippines’ best-kept secrets. “I heard the old folks in the coffee farming areas have been gathering this coffee for their own consumption. They never told people they had this kind of coffee.”

According to Reyes, “It goes through some kind of natural processing which you can see from the roasted beans. It’s more oily, there’s more aroma and it’s such a good taste that you can get value for money even if the cost is so high.”

It may not be everyone’s cup of “coffee,” especially because of the staggering price. But connoisseurs swear to the unique, exotic taste and aroma of this coffee. Its taste has been compared to that of dark chocolate mixed with hazelnut. its rarity and, perhaps, the hype has made it quite expensive for an ordinary man’s pocket.

Whatever your cup of coffee, let’s drink it and be happy!

By Ernee Lagawan

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