A little over a year ago, I stumbled across this article from the New York Times and forwarded it to a couple people (check it out to see the picture of the coffee-packed civet dung…awesome). A little email chain ensued, where one person wrote “Gross! Poop coffee!” and another wanted to give it a try. I was interested, but I wasn’t going to order any. It sells from $100-500/lb.
Then we found ourselves in Chiang Rai, in a coffee shop called Doi Chaang @ Art. As I mentioned, several of the hill tribes in northern Thailand grow coffee, including the Akha farmers living in Doi Chaang village. They have a partnership with a company called Doi Chaang Coffee, which distributes their coffee globally and runs a couple really nice shops. While Alex lounged in a big arm chair, geeking out on his iPad and charting our scooter route for the day, I poked around the coffee beans in a display case. I was looking through the different blends when I spied some bags of Wild Civet Coffee. Whaat??!
Absolutely brimming with enthusiasm, I scurried up to the barista and asked her if they served it by the cup. They did. “How much?” I gulped. It was 300 baht, or $10, among the most expensive single items we came across in our travels. I ran back to our table and conferred with Alex. “Should I do it? If I get a cup, will you drink it with me?” As over-the-top as it was to spend $10 on a cup of coffee, I ordered one.
When it was delivered to our table (as an americano), we were told the coffee tasted of honey and flowers. The barista said to take a sip, swirl the coffee around in our mouths and slowly drink it in. Like a wine tasting. Alex smelled it suspiciously.
We hesitated for a bit. Alex staged a video and I took a sip. But, the video was totally uneventful. As promised, the coffee was perfectly smooth and honey-accented (though, I don’t think I got any floral taste) with absolutely no acidic qualities. No evidences of poop. It was a gorgeous cup of coffee. The best cup of my life. Alex agreed.
We slowly sipped on the cup until it was getting cool, and then returned to the bags of coffee. The beans are from un-caged civets, roaming wild through the coffee plantations, choosing to eat the very best coffee berries they find. After they civet excretes them (see the mottled appearance of the raw beans?), they’re rounded up and washed off by hilltribe farmers. They were selling for somewhere around $450/lb.
And that was our short-lived love affair with civet coffee. Most likely, we had the one and only cup of our lives. But it was a glorious cup!