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Demand For Super-Pricey 'Cat Poop' Coffee Has Driven Down Quality


Civet Cat Coffee

The biggest trend in luxury coffee currently is called civet coffee, and it is made from coffee beans found in animal feces.

The coffee gets it's name from the Asian palm civet, a mammal native to Southeast Asia that resembles a long-nosed cat.

The so-called "cat poop coffee," or "kopi luwak" in Indonesian, can cost up to $60 for 4 ounces of beans or $10 a cup according to NPR. The coffee beans are gathered from the civets' feces after the animals have eaten the coffee plant fruits.

Ordinary coffee beans come from the seed of a coffee plant fruit, which is about the size of a cherry. The seed or "bean" of the coffee plant is separated from the fruit's flesh, fermented, and roasted. Civet coffee undergoes a similar process, except it's all done in an animal's digestive tract.

The concept of coffee from animal feces is nothing new. The Huffington Post reported on the expensive Black Ivory Coffee served at The Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spa. The coffee costs $1,100 per kilogram, or $50 a cup, and comes from elephant dung. There's even bird poop coffee, or seeds found in the feces of the South African Jacu Bird.

Civet coffee became popular in 2010, but it's surge in popularity has caused the quality of the beans to drop as coffee suppliers scramble to provide enough of the product. NPR reports that due to civet coffee's popularity, coffee bean providers are increasingly caging the animals and feeding them the coffee cherries, using inferior beans such as Robusta or unripened fruit.

But coffee providers should be wary, because part of the civet coffee's mystique comes from how hard it is to obtain — not just how good it tastes. If the market is flooded with cat poop coffee, customers will simply move on to the next, harder-to-obtain product. Or just go back to Starbucks.

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