Uni­ver­sity brews up ar­ti­fi­cial civet cof­fee with even more fla­vor

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY KATHER­INE WEI

The Na­tional Ping­tung Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy an­nounced yes­ter­day that it has in­vented the bio­chem­i­cal ver­sion of the much-cov­eted civet cof­fee that is costly be­cause of the ex­tra­or­di­nary man­ner the cof­fee is pro­duced.

Also known as kopi luwak, the cof­fee is the seeds of cof­fee berries that are con­sumed and defe­cated by the Asian palm civet, and cur­rently costs up to NT$15,000 per pound due to its rar­ity.

The cof­fee brewed from the said civet’s fe­ces is said to pos­sess as many as 31 spe­cial aro­mas, but the bio­chem­i­cal ver­sion made by the uni­ver­sity claims to have an ex­tra 11 fra­grances.

The brew was fi­nally per­fected af­ter seven years of re­search, dur­ing which the uni­ver­sity sci­en­tists gath­ered the mycelium of civet fe­ces, and tried to pro­duce an en­vi­ron­ment sim­i­lar to the in­sides of a civet cat’s stom­ach and in­testines so as to suc­cess­fully pro­duce the fi­nal cof­fee brew.

The uni­ver­sity’s vice prin­ci­pal, Hsieh Pao-chuan ( ), yes­ter­day launched the new cof­fee with the school’s Depart­ment of Food Science.

Ac­cord­ing to Hsieh, he had won­dered whether he would be able to pro­duce the same kind of cof­fee beans from a sim­i­lar en­v­i­ron- ment af­ter un­der­stand­ing how the “spe­cial aro­mas” of the civet cof­fee came about.

“I took a team of stu­dents to gather sam­ples of the civet fe­ces in In­done­sia, and re­turned to Tai­wan af­ter hav­ing col­lected fe­ces from 30 or so civets. We an­a­lyzed the bac­te­ria and the mycelium in the fe­ces, and tried to find per­fect matches for the 136 mycelium we dis­cov­ered. In the end, we found 16 that would pro­duce a sim­i­lar en­vi­ron­ment for the cof­fee beans to fer­ment, and we put the civet’s main diet — Su­mantra Mand­heling cof­fee berries — into the fer­ment­ing ma­chine,” said Hsieh.

It would take up to 16 to 24 hours for the civet to defe­cate the berries af­ter con­sum­ing them, said Hsieh. “So we con­trolled the fer­ment­ing time and set it at 24 hours each time. And then we put the cof­fee beans into a ma­chine to an­a­lyze the aro­mas within, and suc­cess­fully pro­duced civet cof­fee in an ar­ti­fi­cial man­ner.”

“There are 11 new aro­mas and the beans are more hy­gienic this way,” Hsieh con­tin­ued.

The orig­i­nal and nat­u­rally pro­duced civet cof­fee is said to con­tain the taste of choco­late, milk and almond, while the brew made by the Ping­tung Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy also tasted of pas­sion fruit, caramel and even a hint of flo­ral fragrance.

“When you are drink­ing cof­fee, you should place the tip of your tongue against your up­per gums, take a sip and swirl it around your mouth be­fore swal­low­ing it. This is like tast­ing red wine, and will be able to taste the dif­fer­ent aro­mas,” said Hsieh.

CNA

(Left) Pro­fes­sor Hsieh Pao-chuan ( ) at the Na­tional Ping­tung Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy uses the fer­ment­ing ma­chine to pro­duce ar­ti­fi­cial “civet” cof­fee beans in this photo taken at the uni­ver­sity yes­ter­day. (Right) Ar­ti­fi­cial “civet” cof­fee beans de­vel­oped by the Ping­tung Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy is shown in this photo.

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