Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good Marketing Can Sell Anything

One of the newest coffee crazes that has hit the States in the last few years is “kopi luwak”, a very special blend of coffee made from very….um….select beans. A product of Indonesia, it is made from coffee beans which have been consumed by a weasel-like animal, called a luwak, and harvested from…well…the stuff that comes out of the back end of a luwak. This has prompted the phrase “good to the last dropping”. I did not make that up (but I wish I could say that I did!). I can’t bring myself to post a picture of the stuff they harvest, but if you must see it…here you go. You might want to read to the end of the article before you click on that link.

According to the Indonesia Tourism Promotion Board, "the secret of this delicious blend lies in the bean selection, which is performed by a luwak, a species of civet cat endemic to Java. The luwak will eat only the choicest, most perfectly matured beans which it then excretes, partially digested, a few hours later. Plantation workers then retrieve the beans from the ground, ready for immediate roasting." So, we are led to believe that the luwak has a special nose for only the best beans, meaning that this animal is the one that chooses which beans go into the special blend – rather than a human being.

That, my friends, is marketing.

But the hype gets even better. A cup of kopi luwak is described by one coffee aficionado in this way - “The aroma is rich and strong, and the coffee is incredibly full bodied, almost syrupy. It's thick with a hint of chocolate, and lingers on the tongue with a long, clean aftertaste. It's definitely one of the most interesting and unusual cups I've ever had.” Another expert claims, “it has a top note of rich, dark chocolate, with secondary notes that are musty and earthy… the scent as the smell of moist earth after a rainfall, with hints of vanilla, that teases the palate for hours after the cup is empty”.

You know, I don’t really approve of anything that teases my palate for hours. It sounds more like a popcorn husk that gets stuck in between your molar and your gums – and no one enjoys that.

Finally, before you run out to find some of this rare blend, you should know that it sells for as much as $600 per pound. A single cup served to you at a coffee shop which features the product will cost you at least $25. Hopefully, half-and-half and Splenda will be offered free of charge – you might need it.

Fashionable and trendy products like this are not new. It’s just one of many unusual and incredibly expensive experiences that our society longs for. I read stories like this, and all I can think of is how people are lulled into paying enormous sums for things that are nearly worthless. Maybe the coffee is really that good, but it seems to me that this is just one more example of a needy society that can easily be tricked into exchanging value for worthlessness. Is this an analogy to bigger things going on around us?

1 comment:

B said...

Alan,you should check out "The Bucketlist". It is awesome to see Jack Nicholson's face after MF explains abt this item.

B