In the Philippines coffee is becoming a big business.  Coffee trees grow abundantly on these islands.  But the Philippines have a little more help in making coffee “extra special” than other counties do.  How is that?

Some Philippine beans get a little extra  processing which makes them the most expensive coffee beans in the world.  This processing is handled by an unlikely employee who gets paid in coffee cherries.  His taxes, if you will, are then pooped out in the form of processed coffee beans which are quickly collected and packaged for your enjoyment.  So just who is this little worker?

The civet is a catlike creature, although not actually a cat.  He is nocturnal and furry.  He loves coffee cherries and in return for his delicious feast the enzymes and acids in his stomach ferment the beans and when they are excreted from the animal’s intestinal track they produce a lovely chocolaty and smooth brew with no bitter aftertaste.  These lovely beans sell for hundreds of dollars a pound.  As you can imagine, civet farms are popping up all along this impoverished region.  Indonesia also has this coffee, better known to the world a copi luwak.

The fact that these coffee farms are on the rise may help; the consumer by bringing down cost.  However, with such high margins one as to wonder if they are getting the genuine deal or a knock off of the origional. 

“Because of its increasing popularity, there is more civet coffee than ever, but I don’t trust the quality,” said Rudy Widjaja, 68, whose 131-year-old family-owned coffee store in Jakarta, Warung Tinggi, is considered Indonesia’s oldest.

Goad Sibayan, a purchaser of these coffee beans, has found some issues with the much sought after coffee.  He went to Cordillera to a arm known as Pat-ogs and inspected their beans.  Upon inspection he said he would pay just under top-grade price. He had found some impurities — inferior beans that the civet had spat out; beans chewed on, not by civets, but bats — that were indiscernible to all but Mr. Sibayan’s expert eye or, rather, tongue.

To read more about Mr. Sibayan’s trip to the Philippines, please visit http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/world/asia/18civetcoffee.html?pagewanted=2

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