As some of you may remember, I made a New Year’s resolution to quit drinking coffee back in January. Though I gave what I feel was a strong effort, my love of coffee eventually won out following the most challenging four hours of my life. So instead of denying myself the pleasure I decided to fully embrace my coffee!
Unless I’m driving.
In fact, I wanted to take it a step further by expanding my caffeinated horizons and exploring what the world of coffee has to offer!
As it turns out, this was a huge mistake.
Elephant sized, actually. But we’ll get to that.
Many of you probably already know about a coffee that is harvested from the droppings of civet cats called Kopi Luwak — which, loosely translated, means “Butt Coffee.”
OK., I made that part up. It actually means “coffee” (Kopi) “weasel” (Luwak), which isn’t much better — and a name advertising agencies didn’t rush to represent.
Although I think my slogan Good to the last dropping had potential.
For those of you who were unaware of civet coffee until now and who are, at this moment, rushing to the sink to spit out that off-brand you grabbed from the bulk food section, don’t worry! Chances are you couldn’t afford this marsupial-enhanced brew, which averages $200 per pound.
Now that you have spit out your coffee for a second time, I’ll give you a brief history of Kopi Luwak so you can fully appreciate something even worse. Let’s start with a little history.
Bean growers on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi have long regarded civet cats as pests because of their propensity to climb coffee bean trees, eat only the choicest berries, and talk incessantly about their stock portfolios while emitting a shrill sound similar to an espresso machine. However, at some point, someone suffering from the biggest case of caffeine addiction in the history of man decided he was desperate enough to “harvest” the civet droppings as a way to get his coffee fix. Though the trail leading to the identity of this “pioneer” is not complete, coffee genealogists have determined that it was someone visiting from the Seattle area.
You’d think getting folks to buy something that, as its biggest selling point, can boast of being pre-digested by a skunk-like animal would be a tall order, especially when you consider the USDA allows a certain amount of “foreign matter” in processed meats and canned goods.
What kind of standards are kept on a product that begins as “foreign matter” in the first place?
Regardless, from those humble beginnings came Kopi Luwak, and the inspiration for Canadian investor Blake Dinkin’s, uh… “elephant-cured” Black Ivory Coffee. Like its predecessor, Black Ivory coffee beans are harvested from droppings — in this case, those left behind by elephants that have consumed coffee beans and sugar cane. Throw in some creamer and who knows? Producers might be able to streamline the process and simply hand out demi-tasse cups at the source?
However, at a cost of $50 per cup — or $550 per pound — Black Ivory Coffee is only available at a select few luxury hotels within the Golden Triangle of Asia, where the coffee is produced. My guess is probably each morning.
According to 31-year-old Ryan Nelson, who tried the coffee while visiting Thailand from Tampa, Fla., “There’s definitely something wild about it that I can’t put a name on.”
How about crappuccino?
Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with an even more unique “flavor profile” process demanding an even higher price, such as feeding Arabica berries to gazelles, who are then eaten by lions, whose droppings are carefully harvested for beans by hand. And “by hand” meaning separating beans from the hands of harvesters who weren’t quite fast enough.
I honestly don’t know what direction the future of coffee will take. What I DO know is the potential market that could open up for us here in the Northwest, where pre-digested black berry jam left by bears can be found in abundance along most logging roads in the spring.
For anyone interested in pursuing this venture, I wish you the best. As for me, I’m content in just bringing you the straight poop.