Currently giving Jamaican Blue Mountain a run for its money as the most expensive cup of coffee you can buy, ‘weasel’ coffee is something that divides the men from the boys.
I have lost count of the people I know who have recoiled in horror from the thought of trying this, which is a shame although understandable.
The problem is that the coffee beans have been through the digestive tract of the weasel, which in certain SE Asian countries has learned to steal the ripe berries from the coffee bushes as a delicious and stimulating snack. The beans inside the berries are deposited later and have to be ‘harvested’ from the weasel poo before going through the usual roasting and grinding process.
I have no idea what prompted the coffee farmer who discovered this to actually try it in the first place, but it has become a premium product. And I guess the high price is justified by the trouble you have to go through to retrieve the digested beans, which – even if you ‘farm’ them by feeding the berries to caged weasels – is still fairly disgusting.
Also, however you get your hands on the beans, there are never very many of them so they have a rarity value, not to mention that they need extra treatment to make them fit for human consumption.
In the end, is it worth it apart from the shock value? I would say it is. The flavour of the resulting brew has a richer, mellower taste, which makes it a better drink.
Mind you, as weasel coffee tends to come from Vietnam and other SE Asian countries where the beans often have a more sharp, sour flavour then the classic S American varieties, this is probably an important improvement.
You can now get weasel coffee in all sorts of forms, from the beans or basic grind to the fancy ‘origami’ coffee filters which balance over your cup as they drip. It also comes in varying grades and strengths, and even from specific areas. (My most recent purchase of’ kopi luwak’ – not the one pictured – is sourced from the slopes of the Kintamani volcano in Bali, which makes it even more interesting.)
As I first had this in Vietnam, where coffee comes sweetened with a big dollop of condensed milk, I tend to drink it this way at home, too. And when they have it in the supermarket, I can use the ‘stay fresh longer’ tubes of chocolate flavoured condensed milk to make myself a weasel mocha. Perfect!