Smelly coffee.

Whilst different cultures around the world continue to wrangle over who produces the best coffee, perhaps the most unusual and memorable solution to your early morning sleepiness originates from certain parts of Asia.

Standing out amongst the crowd with its unique method of production, civet coffee beans eventually land in your coffee cup having passed through the digestive system of the humble Asian palm civet. Also known as “weasel coffee,” this unusual cup of joe is slowly gathering popularity in the furthest corners of the globe, with beans exporting between 100 - 600 dollars per pound.

You see, the civet’s digestive system strips away the fruity layer of the red coffee cherry, leaving the inner bean to marinate in a unique combination of stomach enzymes. Not only do these enzymes help produce the coffee’s distinct bitter taste, but they also help to eliminate any harmful bacteria.

After being defecated, the beans are washed, dried and given a light roast so as not to diminish the subtle flavours. This process also contributes to their cleanliness, with no known cases on record of illness caused by civet coffee. Civet farms are becoming an increasingly common method of controlling the collection of these precious beans, further ensuring higher standards of quality.

Although this defecation of beans is seen as a marking of territory for the civet, humans are now following suit with the bean representing a certain prestige in society. A café in Townsville, Australia has begun selling civet coffee for around 30 euros a cup. With some seven cups sold each week, though, such numbers aren’t going to put the local Starbucks out of business just yet.

For those craving a taste of this unusual brew a little closer to home, a cup of peanut and Blue Mountain civet coffee at the Peter Jones department store in London will set you back around a lazy 50 pounds.


James O’Sullivan