Sunday, April 18, 2010

Civet coffee

Here's a story from the NY Times that, if published on April 1, would have won a prize.

From Dung to Coffee Brew With No Aftertaste
"Costing hundreds of dollars a pound, these beans are found in the droppings of the civet, a nocturnal, furry, long-tailed catlike animal that prowls Southeast Asia’s coffee-growing lands for the tastiest, ripest coffee cherries. The civet eventually excretes the hard, indigestible innards of the fruit — essentially, incipient coffee beans — though only after they have been fermented in the animal’s stomach acids and enzymes to produce a brew described as smooth, chocolaty and devoid of any bitter aftertaste.
As connoisseurs in the United States, Europe and East Asia have discovered civet coffee in recent years, growing demand is fueling a gold rush in the Philippines and Indonesia, the countries with the largest civet populations. Harvesters are scouring forest floors in the Philippines, where civet coffee has emerged as a new business. In Indonesia, where the coffee has a long history, enterprising individuals are capturing civets and setting up minifarms, often in their backyards.
Neither the Indonesian government nor the Association of Indonesia Coffee Exporters breaks down civet coffee’s tiny share of Indonesia’s overall coffee production. The Association of Indonesian Coffee Luwak Farmers, created in 2009 to handle the rising demand for civet coffee, or kopi luwak, as it is called in Indonesian, said most civet producers were small-time businessmen who exported directly overseas.
Given the money at stake, fake and low-grade civet coffee beans are also flooding the market. "
...
"Competition is touching off fierce debates. What is real civet coffee, anyway? Does the civet’s choice of beans make the coffee? Or is it the beans’ journey through the animal’s digestive tract? Can the aroma, fragrance and taste of beans from the droppings of a caged civet ever be as tasty as those from its wild cousin? "

Update. Bettina Klaus writes from Lisbon (where she's stranded by the Icelandic ash cloud), "I found a link on further "Disgusting Delicacies" http://www.walletpop.com/specials/bw/disgusting-delicacies/. Goat poop oil also sounds nice. And the coffee can be mail ordered: http://www.animalcoffee.com/ "

1 comment:

Lia Wright said...

Great post! I am a coffee lover and i love civet coffee. It is considered the most expensive because it is said to be a coffee that is sans any bitterness, and harvesting this coffee is quite a chore. Some people may not be familiar with Kopi Luwak, but once you hear about the harvesting process of it, you can never forget it.
Kopi Luwak