Have you ever heard the story of Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee? Not being a coffee-drinker myself, I will have to take the word of others in describing it as the most exquisite, exotic and appetising coffee in the world. This coffee owes its unique aroma and taste to a civet cat known as the Luwak. In Africa, this cat is the source of musk, the chief ingredient in men’s perfumes. In Indonesia it is the source of the world’s best coffee beans.
This cat is very fussy when it comes to food, eating only the choicest mature coffee cherries, which it only partially digests. These beans are, shall we say, then left lying on the ground, and are harvested, then roasted. While it is a standard coffee served at breakfast in the region, only about 2000 kilos are exported, and sold in the US at about $US650 per kilo.
On the basis of that description, “Dung Coffee” holds little appeal to one who already dislikes the taste of coffee. It sits there with tripe, brains, and liver on my personal ‘never-to-eat’ list. Yet there is something about the story which echoes the gospel, for it is God who is in the habit of turning refuse into works of art, of making cherished possessions of reject material.
Consider the life of Jesus, beginning in a stable with all its attendant animal smells, and ending on a rubbish heap outside of the city. Moses, a refugee and a murderer is God’s chosen one to deliver His people from slavery. Abraham and Sarah, a childless couple are chosen to ‘father a multitude’. Jacob, a liar and a thief becomes the father of Israel.
Western culture in the 21st century is beginning to learn the value to be found in waste, with its focus on recycling. Two challenges face modern society: reducing the amount of waste generated, and increasing the level of recycling of that waste. Christians have known these two calls on their lives for years – to minimise our disobedience to God, and maximise our repentance.
The one who was cursed by being hung on a tree is made blessed for our forgiveness and transformation. This same Jesus is able to take the trash of our lives and turn it into exotic and exquisite aromas of His love and grace, worth far more than a kilo of ‘Dung Coffee’ could ever be!
July 7, 2002