Civet Droppings Coffee
November 15, 2011 by staff
Civet Droppings Coffee, Philippine farmers used to hunt and kill the civets that ate their coffee beans — until they realised the animals’ droppings were worth a small fortune.
Now the ravenous nocturnal raider with the pungent faeces has a status akin to the fabled goose that lays the golden eggs among farmers like Rustico Montenegro, who cleans up after the weasel-like mammals.
“Never in our dreams did we suspect that we could make money out of them,” said Montenegro, 44, who switched a few years ago from picking ripe cherries on coffee trees to gathering the undigested seeds excreted on the forest floor.
The small, tree-dwelling palm civet eats the outer fruit of the coffee bean but passes the rest through its stomach.
It is there that the enzymes and acids in the civet’s hyper-active digestive system remove the normally bitter aftertaste of the coffee bean and give it a distinctive fruity aroma.
“It has no acidity whatsoever, very full-bodied and the taste is very complex… there’s a little bit of spice, a little bit of fruitiness,” said chef Jude Mancuya, a civet coffee fan, as he sipped on a cup at a Manila cafe.
Mancuya paid 295 pesos (about $7) for his cup, which is about double the price of a regular brew in Manila but extremely cheap compared with prices people are paying for civet coffee in the West as its popularity booms.
In the United States, Heirloom Coffee in Massachusetts advertises on its website a brewing and tasting deal at $49 for two cups, with a choice of civet beans from the Philippines, Indonesia or Vietnam.
In New York, one coffee shop sells the exotic beans at a staggering $340 a pound ($748 a kilogram).
For Montenegro and other farmers in Lipa, the capital of the Philippines’ coffee industry a couple of hours’ drive out of Manila, the civet coffee craze has changed their lives.
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