The Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) is believed to seek out and eat the fruits of the Arabica Coffee (Coffea Arabica) at their optimum ripeness (above: flowers; below: fruits with Common Palm Civet insert). As these fruits, often termed cherry, pass through the civet’s digestive tract, the soft outer flesh is absorbed by the civet and the hard seeds passed out from the other end. The scat or poop, as it is commonly known, is easily recognised and eagerly collected, see HERE. The many seeds are collected, washed and processed into coffee powder.
This coffee is known by its Indonesian name, Kopi Luwak, meaning civet coffee. It is only relatively recent that Kopi Luwak found fame outside Indonesia. It has since become the most expensive coffee available. You can buy this coffee in the internet for up to US$200 per 100g LINK. This coffee has even been promoted as “Cat’s Ass Coffee, possibly the best shit on earth” LINK.
Originally the poop is collected from the wild. However, with the high price of luwak coffee, people are farming the civets within enclosed areas where the coffee plants are grown, the easy to collect the poop. Nowadays the trapped civets are kept in cages (below left) where they are fed coffee fruits and the poop collected (below right) LINK.
Traditional farmers scoff at this latter method of farming as the fruits fed are not of the best quality, compared to what the free roaming civets seek them out from the trees. However, in most promotional materials the coffee is falsely claimed to have come from free-ranging civets – see the video by BBC investigative reporters at this LINK.
Now Kopi Luwak has been replaced by Black Ivory Coffee. Produced in Thailand, the coffee seeds come from elephants’ dung, promoted as the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee LINK. Another spinoff is Jacu Bird coffee LINK, collected from the rear end of the generally large sized Brazilian guan birds of the family Cracidae.
But what takes the cake is the “ad on Craigslist offering coffee beans passed through his or her intestinal tract for $30 per pound. And for any customers who need more quality reassurance, the poster writes, “Fecal specimens available upon request.” LINK
Credit: YC Wee (text, image of the coffee plant), Fung Tze Kwan (image of Common Civet) & Pearly Sim (caged civet-collected poop).