$50 a CUP: How Coffee Beans Can Be the Big Hamptons Cash Crop

So we grow some grapes and make some wines on the Island. That is great, but even at $20 a bottle, it isn’t really living up to our elitist standards. I was in Paris last year and I could not find a single bottle of a New York wine. Don’t get me wrong, I love the local wine, but I wonder if there is a better and more profitable use for our fertile land.

As an example, a small village in Indonesia grows a red coffee bean that commands more than $600 per pound. A café in Paris sells the coffee for about $50 American per cup. The coffee is called Kopi Luwak. You might remember it from the 2007 movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman titled The Bucket List.

Near the end of the movie, on his deathbed, Freeman finally reveals to Nicholson that the “most expensive coffee in the world” he has been drinking is made from a coffee bean that is eaten, partly digested and then excreted by the common palm civet. For those of you that do not know, the palm civet is very similar to the common housecat. In some places they are even called “toddycats.”

The civet eats the bean and digests the soft outer part, but does not digest the inner bean. The digestive juices of the civet add a unique flavor to the bean and at the same time removes the bitterness. All one has to do is follow the civet around, collect and separate the droppings and “voila,” amazing coffee.

The Hamptons is known for its celebrities and expensive tastes. All we need to do is convince some of the local vineyards to plow under their vines and start growing red coffee beans.

I checked with Wikipedia and civets are not indigenous to New York but that is of no real concern. We all know that there are a lot of cats in the area. The shelters always have a surplus of cats. And I also know that there are some house cats in East Hampton and West Hampton that aren’t carrying their own weight.

When the coffee beans are ripe, we will sprinkle them with catnip and then feed them to the cats. When the cats poop, we will collect and separate the partially digested beans and then we will roast and package them.

This is a win-win for everyone. The vineyards will quadruple their profitability, there will be no unemployed cats and the East End will be restored to its proper standing.

Because the vineyards might want some proof before committing, I have harvested 20 pounds of beans from a coffee tree I have been growing in my yard in Southampton. I do not own a cat, but I was able to lease my neighbors’ cat for $60 a day. I have done a sampling and I must say Jack Nicholson was right in that the aroma and the flavor is just indescribable. So far the only problem that I have run into is that I have to keep giving the cat sleeping pills at night to bring it down from the caffeine high.

I am hoping to get some samples and a market test in the Hampton Coffee Company in Water Mill, but so far they have not returned my calls.

All over the globe, I can hear it now, “One Tall Hamptons Finest Brew, two sugars and a splash of soy—That will be $50.”

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