Kopi Luwak comes from a cat cousin called civets. Civets have been exploited for years. People used to whip them and stress them out to collect their musky sweat as an ingredient for Chanel No. 5 perfume. Fortunately, Chanel gave that up in 1998.
Now, Asian Palm Civets are being stalked in various parts of Asia. Humans collect their turds after the civets eat red coffee berries, which they can’t digest properly. People think the berries are much yummier after they’ve been run through a civet.
Bear in mind that while these berries are inside the civet, they’re mingling with its regular diet of fruit, insects, birds’ eggs, and the carcasses of small mammals and reptiles.
The coffee sells for $120-600 a pound because only about 1,000 pounds of civet-excreted beans are gathered each year. It’s sold mainly in the U.S. and Japan, but in Australia, a single cup can go for $46.
I don’t know what people munch on with civet coffee; a bagel or Danish just doesn’t seem to cut it. But if people will drink brewed civet poop, it won’t be long before they start looking to us domestic shorthairs to provide other tasty treats.
If you catch Andrew Zimmern skulking around your litterbox, watch out!