Today we’re going to talk about cat feces, because apparently, cats are so godly that even their excrement helps give coffee a unique, novelty flavor.
No, really. Cat feces is actually known to be the magic ingredient to making really good coffee. So good, in fact, that a kilogram of it is said to retail at as much as $700.
This “cat poop coffee” is officially known as kopi luwak, or civet coffee, and is made from coffee beans defecated by the Asian palm civet. The civet is a cute little animal, with short legs and a long tail.
Technically, the civet is not a cat, although it is also known as the tobby cat. But regardless of what you want to call it, it’s pretty darn adorable, and helps us produce the most expensive coffee in the world.
Poop = Magic ingredient?
So what’s the real deal with this high-end coffee? Why is it such a novelty, and isn’t it sort of, well, gross?
As described above, kopi luwak is made from coffee beans defecated by Asian palm civets. These civets are native to most of Southeast Asia, as well as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. And although they are known to be omnivores, they love berries, including the pulpy fruits of coffee cherries.
Being the furry, four-legged berry connoisseurs that they are, the civets only eat the ripest cherries. After they’ve eaten their fill, their digestive mechanisms take care of the rest. Inside the digestive tract, enzymes seep into the beans, giving the resulting coffee a “distinct” flavor. Many coffee fanatics have actually described kopi luwak as a gimmick — a coffee with an interesting story but really bad flavor — while others claim that the enzymes help create a mild brew with little acidity and bitterness.
Perhaps as a much-needed side note, you will not be ingesting any fecal matter by drinking kopi luwak, as the beans are processed accordingly.
Here’s an infographic that concisely describes the process in which kopi luwak is made:
Make sure to choose 100% wild
The reason for the high cost of kopi luwak is in its rarity. Kopi luwak production was born out of an entirely natural process, and it should remain that way. That’s why it’s super important to choose 100% wild beans, which means that no civets were caged or force-fed at any point during the production process. Unfortunately, there exist many civet farms where these gorgeous animals are caged and abused, a reality that has brought controversy to the whole idea of kopi luwak production. So if you ever decide to try some of the world’s most expensive coffee, make sure you’re informed about the product you are buying. And beware of cheap imitations, too!