Legendee and Kopi Luwak: The Legend of the Weasel

One of the world's most famous coffees, the Legendee is a unique enzymatically-treated coffee that releases flavors often bound in the beans and not released under ordinary processing.

The "Legend" has to do with stories about natives who drank a brew from washed coffee beans that had been partly digested by small furry animals that don't really have a counterpart in the Western world (a civet more than a "weasel"). The "real" civet coffee (called Kopi Luwak in Indonesia) is incredibly rich, mellow and chocolaty. This obviously low-volume, expensive coffee encouraged experiments by Trung Nguyen that were performed by a staff of European scientists who eventually found natural enzymes that duplicate this process and leaves the weasels (civets) to blissfully go their own way.

Trung Nguyen was the original pioneer of this process and it has not been duplicated by any other coffee maker. The process produces a coffee unlike any other in the world, with a wide range of rich flavors and virtually no bitterness.

When iced, it releases a flavor explosion that makes it, in many people's opinion, the world's best iced coffee. You will never look at a cup of donut shop iced coffee or Charbucks the same way again.

Tourists to Vietnam often don't consider their visit complete until they have sat in a Trung Nguyen coffeehouse and tried the Legendee brewed by the single-cup filters.

FAQ about Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee)

Q. What is Kopi Luwak?
A. Kopi Luwak translates as "Civet Coffee" and is created in several regions of the world where the Palm Civet or similar species resides. Palm Civets are primarily "frugivores" (fruit eaters) and were once considered a pest by coffee farmers, because the furry little beasts would feed at night on only the ripest coffee cherry fruits. They would swallow the coffee fruit and bean in its entirety, dissolve the fruit away from the bean, and pass the beans onto the ground by morning. At some point some frustrated farmer decided to wash the beans and roast them, and was amazed to discover the best coffee he had ever had. Now, many years later, the Civet is literally treated more like the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg than a pest, for obvious reasons, since Kopi Luwak coffee can fetch from $180 to $600 per pound and is the world's most expensive coffee.

Q. So is Kopi Luwak actually a "coffee"?
A. No, Kopi Luwak is a PROCESS. Many people talk about Kopi Luwak as if it were a specific coffee, but it is not. In Sumatra, for example, you may have a farmer creating Kopi Luwak using civets in a closed-range "farm" who have been fed on heirloom Arabica Typica only. In Kalinga or Barako in the Philippines, a farmer may be collected beans from wild civets who have been dining on coffee cherries from four or more varieties or species, including Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, Liberica, etc. These examples are not given to imply that the reverse could not be true, i.e., a Sumatran farmer using 100% Robusta or other mix. The point is, that the beans used and the type of farming greatly affect the underlying taste of the coffee.

Q. So what makes Kopi Luwak recognizable and desirable?
A. Despite the different bean base and farming methods, the enzymes that are responsible for the creation of Kopi Luwak-style coffee are consistent in their effect upon the coffee. Thus, all Kopi Luwak is recognizable for certain tastes, aromas and characteristics, such as extremely low bitterness. The main characteristics are: Exceptionally pleasing initial aroma, generally lighter roast (due to the low bitterness and the enzyme structural action, heavy roasting is not needed to bring out more flavor), smooth, buttery mouthfeel, a hint of chocolate overtones, and a haunting persistance not just on the pallet but on the memory. People say they can "recall the wonderful taste" for as long as a 2-3 hours after having a cup. These characteristics are generally present in all Kopi Luwak, even though the taste experience will be different due to the choice of beans and roast level, etc.

Q. Is Kopi Luwak safe for humans?
A. The frugivore civet has no known harmful bacteria that can be passed to human beings. The washing, sun-drying, and roasting temperatures over 350° destroy any possible bacterial content. There is no public record reporting any case of illness from drinking Kopi Luwak. Contrast that record against a huge litany of health complaints filed by other coffee consumers who report that over-roasted major chain coffeehouse coffees give them heartburn, acid reflux, heart palpitations and headaches. Truly, the palatable Kopi Luwak is a far more tolerated coffee than most.

Q. Is The Legendee truly an acceptable simulation of Kopi Luwak?
A. Over the years, consumers of both Kopi Luwak coffees and Legendee, both Classic and new Gold, have consistently told us that Legendee achieves many of the same characteristics of true Kopi Luwak. Legendee is easily 100X more popular as a Kopi Luwak equivalent than any other brand's attempt to duplicate the process of Kopi Luwak. The reason is simple, it is the only process using research by a team of German scientists contracted by Trung Nguyen in 1996 to study the effect of the Civet on coffee and duplicate a natural enzyme soak process that would approximate the same effect. All other Kopi Luwak simlations rely on choosing beans with specific profiles and artificial or natural flavorings to attempt to duplicate Kopi Luwak.

Q. If all Kopi Luwak is somewhat different, what type of Kopi Luwak does Legendee represent?
The Legendee Gold is closest in profile to Kopi Luwak from Civets fed on an all-Arabica diet. The Classic Legendee is intended to match the profile of Kopi Luwak created from civets fed on multiple species of coffees, which usually include Arabica, Excelsa and Robusta. Thus, the Classic Legendee is a darker and bolder Kopi Luwak equivalent.

Q. How should Kopi Luwak, or Legendee, be brewed?
These coffees should be brewed by selecting just enough coffee for the brewing of one cup at a time, unless being prepared for more than one person. Brewing in the Phin filter, Chemex, Aeropress, or French Press will all yield somewhat different but excellent results. Never use boiling water. A temperature of 185° - 195° is best. Brewing for 4 minutes maximum is recommended. But, you will find your own best method and time if you experiment a little from these guidelines. Enjoy!