Pass the coffee

One of the world’s most exclusive types of coffee comes from the hills and mountains of South East Asia and a bag of coffee beans can cost up to $800 per kilo in Japan or the US. Just a cup of this coffee will set you back $50 in coffee shops in New York and £40 in the UK. So, what makes it so special?

The coffee is made from beans which have been eaten and then excreted by civets, small cat-like animals. Coffee connoisseurs give two reasons for civet coffee’s unique taste:

  1. civets select the juiciest coffee cherries, which in turn give the best beans.
  2. once inside the civet, the beans are fermented by enzymes in the stomach.

People living in the Philippines’ coffee-growing areas are well aware of the benefits and unique taste of civet coffee and have been drinking it for centuries. However, they just didn’t know there was a market for it. They assumed that it was inferior grade coffee because it was on the ground, inside civet poo, and since they couldn’t sell it, they drank it.

That has now all changed and there are several companies involved in civet coffee and in Indonesia, where the civet coffee industry is more established, many small-scale civet farms have been set up. However, some coffee connoisseurs doubt whether this approach will produce the same quality of coffee. They argue that a caged civet will eat whatever it is given rather than choosing for itself the best beans as they do in the wild.

Another problem being encountered as a result of the high price of the beans is that some farmers try to pass off ordinary coffee beans as beans which have been eaten by the civet.

It is not really surprising, when you think about it, that connoisseurs and drinkers agree that it looks different, tastes different and smells different to regular coffee. It is bound to be different having entered and passed through the internal workings of a feline before being ejected as waste.

Here kitty, kitty….coffee time.

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