If you’re caffeine dependent, you’re probably the type of person who feels drowsy all day without getting a cup of coffee. Well hey, this slightly acidic beverage is a mainstay in breakfast and café tables – no surprise there as it is one of the world’s most popular beverages despite being bitter. Thanks to this heavily caffeinated drink, only a small minority have been sleeping on their work desks.
Aside from the usual beans we buy from local coffee roasters and distributors, there are some unorthodox brews around the world. Yes, these all came from beans, but there’s something “different” (in a scary way) about how they are made, making them as weird as the food in a previous entry. For knowledge’s sake, let’s learn some of the world’s weirdest coffees and know the horrors that lie within the mixture.
Coffee Spat Out by Monkeys
Monkeys are one of the world’s smartest animals due to their close genetic relations with humans. In Taiwan, a particular species called the Formosan rock macaques are smart enough to know that coffee berries make a healthy meal and at the same time, aware that the beans cause indigestion out. Though the monkeys are a pest to the country’s coffee industry, one farmer learned to cooperate and started harvesting and roasting the beans they spat out.
He later found out that the coffee made from those turned out to be sweeter and had a vanilla-like aroma. Though we’re not sure how monkey spit made the beans sweeter, the farmer who discovered it is making big money out of it. If you want a cup, prepare to spend $60 a pound.
Coffee from Civet poop
People in Indonesia, the Philippines (in some regions only), East Timor and Vietnam had the genius idea of roasting coffee beans that were defecated by the Asian Palm Civet, a cat-weasel-like animal local to Asia. Yep, you read that right: people roast coffee beans extracted from civet feces. Basically, the science behind the madness involves feeding them with coffee berries and then ends by them pooping out the FERMENTED version of the beans, which are then thoroughly cleaned and roasted.
What about the taste? Well, kopi luwak is more of a novelty coffee: it is purchased mainly because of its popularity, not because of its taste. A kilogram sells for a whopping $700, making it one of the world’s most expensive – and weird coffees. Critics have judged it to be “stale”, “lifeless” and “thin”. It’s something you wouldn’t want on your café table, although drinking it while taking a trip around Asia would make a good story.
Fair warning: kopi luwak farmers have been accused of housing the civets under inhumane conditions.
Considered to be a luxurious item in Thailand, Black Ivory coffee is one of the world’s most insanely expensive coffees at $1,100 a kilogram. Unlike Kopi Luwak, this has been praised for its “smoothness” – it tastes like regular coffee, just without the bitterness. However, like kopi luwak, it is made from poop.
Well, not really: the elephants just “refine” the coffee. How? By eating the coffee cherries, partially digesting, fermenting and finally, excreting them. This process takes a minimum of 15 hours and could last as long as 70. This coffee achieves its rich and smooth taste thanks to the enzymes present in the elephant’s digestive tract. These break down the coffee beans’ protein, thus resulting to a less bitter taste.
The company producing this coffee is in partnership with an Asian elephant sanctuary in Thailand, so you can be assured that the animals are kept in happy and humane conditions.
Black Ivory Coffee is very hard to produce: 33 kilograms are needed to produce one kilogram. This is so because the beans may be fully digested or if the elephants’ appetites aren’t up to the task. Though it’s something you’d want to try out, the thousand-dollar may be too much. However, $50 cups of this luxurious but weird coffee are available in certain luxury hotels in the country, so try checking them out – if you dare.
(Cover photo from Julius Schorzman, Wikimedia)