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Would You Pay Extra for Civet Poo-ed Coffee?

A way to make sure your coffee beans were digested by a civet -- or not.

by
Sarah Hoyt

Bio

August 26, 2013 - 3:00 pm
How much for a certified not-digested-by-a-palm-civet cup of coffee?

How much for a certified not-digested-by-a-palm-civet cup of coffee?

According to the Telegraph until now there has been no way to tell whether that coffee in your cup came from beans that had been processed by the digestive system of a weasel-like creature, known as a palm civet.

Kopi Luwak, which is Indonesian for civet coffee, can cost up to £51 a cup and is often substituted for cheaper beans.

It is created by feeding the coffee cherries to the Asian carnivore, which is also known as a toddy cat. They digest the soft fruit and then excrete the hard bean inside.

Workers then retrieve the coffee beans, clean, ferment and roast them.

For all those who really, really, really want to be sure that their coffee went through the innards of a civet, there is hope:

They have identified a unique chemical fingerprint that exists in coffee that has been excreted by a palm civet.

Their findings may also go some way towards explaining why the taste of the civet coffee is so refined compared to standard coffee beans – passing through the animal’s gut changes its chemical make up.

Eiichiro Fukusaki, who led the research, said: “Despite being known as the world’s most expensive coffee, there is no reliable, standardised method for determining its authenticity.

“This is the first report to address the selection and successful validation of discriminant markers for the authentication of Kopi Luwak.”

I suppose this works in reverse too.  Not that anyone is likely to substitute my Kopi Luwak for my Donut Shop Coffee (Though I don’t use K-cups). All the same I’d sleep better at night if coffee-bean packaging I got said “Absolutely certified not digested by a palm civet — or anything else.”

******

Photo courtesy morguefile.com  Photo © frenchbyte

Sarah Hoyt lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons and too many cats. She has published Darkship Thieves and 16 other novels, and over 100 short stories. Writing non-fiction is a new, daunting endeavor. For more on Sarah and samples of her writing, look around at Sarah A. Hoyt.com or check out her writing and life blog at According to Hoyt.com.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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Yah. I've heard about it. The $64K question here is: do the coffee berries absolutely HAVE to be run through the guts of a member of the family Viverridae or can other mammals do the job as well?

Perhaps you can guess where I'm going with this...what do coffee berries taste like?

"My sister earns $1600 per week doing nothing but...."
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"civet coffee can cost up to £51 a cup and is often substituted for cheaper beans."

No.

Cheaper beans are substituted for civet coffee.

You've stated it backwards.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article reminded me of an old joke about a guy, a tea fanatic, who traveled through the most remote Australian outback to find a town named, Mercy, Australia, for what by reputation was the finest tea in the world.

He got there and found only one little cottage. He knocked on the door and was greeted by an old, retired Anglican priest. He told the priest he was on a quest for the finest cup of tea in the world, and the priest invited him in, saying, "I was about to have a spot of it meself, would love to share it with you."

As the priest brought the tea into the room, the tea connoisseur was in raptures just from the odor alone. He brings the tea to his lips and can't stop drinking, such was its exquisite flavor. The entire cup, gone in one gulp. But as the cup was emptied, a very visible hair was stuck to the bottom of the cup.

A bit of a buzzkill. The connoisseur politely, and sadly, said, "Well, Father, it's a lovely cup of tea... but there was a hair in the cup..."

The priest smiled, "That's the secret of out tea! Add a single hair from a koala bear, and the oils in it bring out all the flavor!"

The connoisseur suggested, "Well, couldn't the hair be strained out before serving?"

The priest was firm: "The koala tea of Mercy is never strained!"
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
UGH! EEEK! That one deserves a Report Abuse click!
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Given that Civet coffee is sold at way far higher prices than what I buy, I'm pretty sure my coffee hasn't seen a colon before I drink it.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought this story about civet crapped coffee was several years old. It was probably five years ago that I first heard of this.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I heard about it in a documentary several years ago. Don't ask me what show or channel though; I really don't recall. It might have been a cat documentary because the civet is called a "civet cat" by some people, although it doesn't much resemble a cat in my opinion.

According to Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civet_coffee]: The origin of kopi luwak is closely connected with the history of coffee production in Indonesia. In the early 18th century the Dutch established the cash-crop coffee plantations in their colony in the Dutch East Indies islands of Java and Sumatra, including Arabica coffee introduced from Yemen. During the era of Cultuurstelsel (1830—1870), the Dutch prohibited the native farmers and plantation workers from picking coffee fruits for their own use. Still, the native farmers wanted to have a taste of the famed coffee beverage. Soon, the natives learned that certain species of musang or luwak (Asian Palm Civet) consumed the coffee fruits, yet they left the coffee seeds undigested in their droppings. The natives collected these luwaks' coffee seed droppings, then cleaned, roasted and ground them to make their own coffee beverage.[9] The fame of aromatic civet coffee spread from locals to Dutch plantation owners and soon became their favorite, yet because of its rarity and unusual process, the civet coffee was expensive even in colonial times.

The Wikipedia article also cites prices that are MUCH higher than those in the article: Although kopi luwak is a form of processing, not a variety of coffee, it has been called the most expensive coffee in the world with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogram. (A kilogram is 2.2 pounds so we're talking roughly $300/pound).
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I barely tolerate coffee as it is, so likely not. However, if something tasted good enough to me, I doubt my knowledge of what it was would truly turn me off. But then, I'm one of those people who watch Bizarre Foods and think that a lot of that stuff has started looking better and better. I was actually jonesing for chili-fried tarantula the last time I saw that episode. To me, it's the taste trumps all.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excuse me while I go to the cabinet and throw away all the Indonesian coffee bags ...

Meanwhile, we've been buying unroasted beans and roasting them in a popcorn popper 1/2cup at a time.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
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