Waiter, there’s weasel poop in my coffee (and beer)

Yep, you read the headline right. Personally, I haven’t actually had “cat poo coffee” as it’s sometimes called. However, I did have the privilege once of sampling an amazing beer made with some of this coffee, an oatmeal stout called Beer Geek Brunch (I had the Cognac Edition) from the adventurous, inventive Mikkeller brewery of Denmark.

What I didn’t know is that the high prices for this coffee have led some enterprising, less-than-scrupulous folks to find ways to milk this niche market. As Claire O’Neill details in this wonderful post at NPR’s The Salt,

the Asian palm civet, a native mammal (not really a cat) to Southeast Asia, eats the ripest berries of a coffee plant; through the process of digestion, the seed is separated from the fruit and is fermented. Traditionally, wild civets would go about their business and humans would collect the fermented droppings….

“The problem,” says Oliver Strand, another coffee connoisseur, “is that it became so desired as a luxury good that they started caging the animals and feeding them coffee that isn’t ripe.”

Strand, who often writes about coffee for The New York Times and is working on a book, says that not only is the fruit unripe, but also that some civet farmers are feeding the animals varieties like Robusta, decried by many coffee lovers as an inferior bean — the one often used in instant coffee.

For all the details on this fascinating coffee, including tasting notes and photos, head to the full NPR post here, and check out this nice audio story from the BBC.

Dark Force vs Weasel

Photo by Bernt Rostad via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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