Sampling poop coffee or "Kopi Luwak" in Bali
About 200 years ago, the Dutch were being dicks. In a nutshell, that pretty much sums up any colonialist period, don't you think? But in particular, these colonists really seemed to be bent on making the lives miserable of their local charges. For instance, at the coffee plantations, for which Indonesia was already becoming famous globally, the Dutch wouldn't allow the natives to use any of the berries to roast their own coffee. Now, in modern-day speak, I suspect we might refer to that as an own goal. Disallowing an unpaid employee from ingesting caffeine and thereby becoming more productive? Not exactly forward-thinking, guys...
Well anyway, one day, one of the locals noticed that the weasels who roamed the area were eating the coffee berries (without a word from the Dutch colonists, mind you) and then pooping them out, whole. What better use for defecated whole coffee berries than a latte, right? So, that's precisely what these enterprising baristas did: collected the poo berries, washed them, and gave them a light roast. Personally, considering the source, I'd have given them a very long, very dark roast indeed.
Now, before I get to the business of how this coffee tastes, I should note here that this pooping weasel is not technically a weasel, but an Asian Palm Civet. "Civet?" you ask, aghast. Yes, "Civet," I say, just as aghast. Because we all remember who nearly brought down the nascent Southeast Asian economic recovery back in 2000-ish with SARS, don't we? That's right, the civet cat. But back to the coffee and the Dutch, because this post-colonialist story has a nice ending, which is a little unusual when it comes to stories about post-colonialist eras.
Of course, it didn't go without notice that the local natives were drinking their own home brew, and naturally the Dutch wanted a piece of that pie. Discovering that the poop coffee was actually far more rich and complex in flavor than what they'd been producing for themselves, everyone knew the locals were onto something. Only problem was that poop comes in short supply, and it can't exactly be forced. So clearly production for this coffee was going to be small. Which made it very expensive. Eventually (and I'm really going to fast forward here, because we all know you're only reading to find out what poop coffee tastes like, not hear me try to parse the finer points of Dutch post-colonialism), the local natives kicked the Dutch out, and forced them, and the rest of us, to pay upwards of $600 a pound for their pooped-out coffee beans.
Come to think of it, isn't a picture worth a thousand words? Watch the video above of me drinking many, many cups of gender-specific poop coffee. Yes, this coffee comes in male and female.
Video by Lori Davidson