What could be worse than drinking coffee made from “cat” poop? How about paying $600 for it? Then again, there are people who pay big bucks for tea made from panda poop as well.
No one can say for sure what inspired the first person(s) come up with the idea of feeding coffee beans to Asian Palm Civet (aka Toddy cats) and then producing his java from the digested, partially fermented beans expelled by the animals, but he has found quite a lot of people willing to shell out bug bucks for it. So much so that biochemists are now using chemical tests to differentiate between the cat coffee and that made the regular way from freshly picked beans to protect consumers.
While connoisseurs claim it is “like drinking expensive wine,” and describe the taste as “exquisite, superior, smooth flavor,” The consensus of the Specialty Coffee Association of America is that.” it just tastes bad, and smells worse”.
Known as kopi luwak, the coffee, is produced primarily in Indonesia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, and the Phillipines is traditionally made from feces collected from wild civets that have ingested the berries for the beans' fleshy pulp, which, in turn have been fermented in their digestive systems. According to scientists the civet's “proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids.”
However, there are now farms which have been keeping the cats in cages and force feeding them beans, which has raised outcries about animal abuse by animal advocates who not only protest "horrific conditions including isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate among the civets, but warn that the practice may pose a “significant threat to wild civet populations.” At the same time, "coffee experts" claim that the stress to the animals caused by the ill treatment also harms the quality of the kopi luwak making it "inferior" to that harvested in forests.