People Pay A Premium For Coffee Beans Excreted By What?
The Asian Palm Civet is a member of the Viverridae family, a diverse family of medium-sized mammals that is very distantly related to felines. What makes the Asian Palm Civet unique among all other civets is that it enjoys eating the fruit of coffee plants and, making the entire arrangement even more bizarre, its digestive process leaves the bean entirely intact. Farmers then gather the droppings, wash them, and roast the beans: the beans harvested this way are known as Kopi Luwak. As you can imagine, the process of gathering the coffee beans is labor intensive and expensive.
You’re probably asking yourself: does this process make the coffee taste better? For surely, if people were willing to pay a premium for coffee excreted by an animal, it would have to greatly enhance the flavor. Extensive testing of the beans, blind taste tests with professional coffee “cuppers”, and other examinations of the process have shown that there is little difference between plain old supermarket coffee and Kopi Luwak. The bizarre process of collection and the resulting high price tag, then, is the only thing that actually makes the coffee rare.
Image by Praveenp.