Coffee is so much part of the Italian culture that one of the standard greeting lines is: “Prendiamo un caffè?” (“Fancy a coffee?”). Italy ranks 11th in the world coffee consumption with an approximate 3.7 Kg of coffee per capita each year. Italians, however, value coffee in terms of quality, rather than quantity. Blends used in Italy mainly consist of 51% Robusta and 49% Arabica consumed in small, concentrated doses. The way coffee is prepared is what makes all the difference. In Italy, coffee is not just a beverage but an art form with its own customs and traditions. See: the real art of drinking coffee. On this page, we are going to have a closer look at the world’s rarest coffee bean types, such as Peaberry, and coffee varieties, such as Kopi Luwak and Kona coffee.
The fruit of the coffee plant normally develops coffee cherries containing two half-beans. In 1 to 7% of the cases, however, there is just one whole coffee bean in the coffee cherry. This oval (or pea-shaped) bean is known as peaberry or caracoli.
Peaberry are the rarest type of coffee beans, valued for their robust flavor. Because they have a higher density than non-peaberry coffee beans, coffee brewed from peaberry is known to have a smooth consistency and rich aroma.
The rarest and most expensive variety of coffee is Kopi Luwak or civet coffee. It is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten and defecated by civets from Sumatra and the Indonesian archipelago, locally known as luwaks. This type of coffee is also known as Motit coffee, Kape Alamid and Kafe Laku in the Cordillera region, Tagalog region (Philippines) and in East Timor, respectively. When the berries are absorbed by the civet-like animal, enzymes from the luwak’s stomach seep into the beans, altering the chemical characteristics of the beans, while not altering anything to their shape. The civets usually feed on the finest coffee berries from the finest Arabica coffee, Liberica, Excelsa, and Robusta coffees. After gathering, thorough cleaning, sun drying, light roasting and grounding, these beans yield a distinct sweet and chocolaty aromatic coffee with much less bitterness and caffeine content, widely noted as the most expensive and unique type of gourmet coffee in the world.
A part from the extremely rare Kopi Luwak variety, which requires the intervention of a ‘third party’ to reach its exquisite quality, there is also the Kona coffee bean. This rare type of coffee bean is produced in Hawaii. It contains the highest level of caffeine of all coffee varieties and is therefore rarely blended with other types of coffee. Its rich aroma and flavor are best enjoyed in its pure form.