Storm in a coffee cup
HERVEY’S Range Heritage Tea Rooms on the outskirts of Townsville hit a gold mine when they started selling the rare Kopi Luwak coffee.
As the only outlet supplying the coffee in Australia owners Allan and Michelle Sharpe realised they had found a unique blend of coffee but they had no idea about the media frenzy they were about to unleash.
Kopi Luwak is arguably the world’s rarest coffee. Kopi is Indonesian for coffee, while Luwak means cat – the name explains the origin of the beans which are harvested from the ground in Indonesian coffee plantations. The process is alarming but the final product is an aromatic smooth coffee with none of the typical bitter edge.
The ripest coffee cherries are eaten from the tree by the common civet (an Indonesian cat) the beans go through the digestive process and come out in large clumps which are highly sought after.
The coffee sells for $1,250 a kilo – or $50 a cup at the Sharpe’s Hervey’s Range Heritage Tea Rooms, an historic split log cabin in North Queensland’s oldest building dating from the region’s mining heritage. The building has a tragic past and like most heritage buildings in North Queensland is said to be haunted by the ghosts of previous owners.
The launch of the ‘cat waste’ coffee sparked a media storm for the tea rooms with the Sharpe’s inundated with interview requests from both Australian and international media.
Allan Sharpe stumbled onto Kopi Luwak while searching for coffee blends for the newly refurbished tea house online. “We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response to the coffee,” he said.
“People are coming from all over the country to try the coffee. We’ve had one guy come back twice just so he could tell his mates. He didn’t even like coffee but his friends were coffee fanatics.”
“There’s no doubt people are drinking the coffee as an experience so we give them a certificate to take home to prove they’ve had the guts to give it a try. The coffee splits opinions but it certainly gets people talking,” he said.
The tea rooms lie 20 minutes from Townsville on Hervey’s Range Road. Sharpe recommends sampling the Kopi Luwak in whatever way you normally take coffee – with purists favouring the short black.