Have you ever heard of the civet cat?
This mammal is native to countries in Southeast Asia. The Indonesians call it the “luwak.” The Filipinos think it looks like a raccoon - a cross between a rat and a cat. And to the Vietnamese, it looks like a fox.
But truth be told, the civet cat isn’t really a cat, but rather a distant cousin of the mongoose.
What’s so special about this animal? Well, its food. It’s a meat-eater but it also likes to eat fruit: most especially the ripe, red cherries of a wild coffee tree in the forest.
And people say it eats only the best, most matured coffee beans.
A few hours after eating, the civet cat will take a poo. The beans of the coffee cherries that it ate will come out; only half-digested.
The magic is hidden from the human eye: The chemicals inside the stomach of the cat touched the passing beans and gave them a very unique flavor and aroma (smell).
Now, the beans that came out of the civet cat are very rare and exotic – as expensive as gold.
Local gatherers tromp deep into the forest and hike to remote areas in the mountains to hunt for these beans – basically, the civet cat’s poo. Later, the distributors will sell it - from $ 600 to $ 900 per pound!
Americans love drinking coffee. They call it “java” or “black gold.” That’s why Starbucks and the Coffee Bean are very successful franchises. In the 1900s, there was a craze for gourmet coffee and, more recently, a trend for organic coffee. Americans don’t mind spending extra money for it.
And “civet coffee” is perfectly natural. After the beans are picked up from the forest floor (from the civet cat’s poo), they are washed and roasted.
Finally, one cup of civet coffee will cost from $ 30 to $ 100.
Coffee experts say civet coffee is really special because of its rich and strong aroma. Because of it’s thick and oily body, almost like a syrup. It gives a hint of chocolate and stays on the tongue with a long, lovely aftertaste. Like dark chocolate with bits of hazelnut.
If you ask me, I would like to try this coffee once and that would be it. I’d never spend too much for it.
If you are indeed a coffee connossieur or a foodie (a food geek), then I can understand why you wanna spend too much on civet coffee.
But if you just listen to all the stories and company promotions about this very rare and exotic product, then follow it up as a trend even though you’re not really a person of such discriminating taste – in short, if you’re just doing it under pretension, then I assure you that you will lose.
And you will have nobody to blame but yourself.
First, some of the beans sold in the market are fake.
Second, most of the real civet beans are packaged by the companies as a luxury product – much too expensive and, unavoidably, as a gimmick.
To put it simply, civet coffee in itself is good. But when the marketers start to talk too much about it and make people pursue it as a trend, that’s when the problem happens. It loses its power and the opposite happens. In a word, the marketers are killing their own market.
You’re better off pursuing the civet coffee on your own – because you really want to – and not just because you wanna be “in” with the rest of the crowd. If you still insist on blindly following a craze that you barely understand, then the product will never live up to your expectations.
You’ll probably end up tasting it as it really is – like shit in a cup. And then the civet cat would be laughing at you.