In the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi there lives Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, a small creature commonly known as the Asian Palm Civet. This cat-like creature can be thought of as the Asian equivalent of a raccoon in form and function. It has a varied diet and feeds primarily upon exotic fruits like mango, chiku, and rambutan. A lot of coffee grows in these Indonesian Islands and the Asian Palm Civet also likes to feast on the coffee cherries. Being a hardy little fruit, the cherry often leaves the civet with some flesh still covering the bean. That is to say, the coffee beans survive the digestive processes of the civet and are defecated out intact.
And this is where it gets strange.
People then collect the beans from the excrement, yes they pluck the partially digested cherries from the poo. The carefully selected fecal matter is taken away and washed, hopefully quite thoroughly. The clean beans are then roasted, packaged, and sold for $120-600 per pound, making it one of the most expensive food items in the world. That's some expensive shit. [Please forgive me for my inability to let that cliche pass unuttered.]
Why, you may ask, would people go to all this trouble and pay such exorbitant prices for something so conceptually disgusting? The partial digestion of the coffee beans changes their chemical composition and thus the flavor. Even seasoned coffee lovers can sometimes be taken aback by the bitterness and acidity of their favorite brew and the Asian Palm Civet has unknowingly found a remedy to this situation. Kopi Luwak has the distinct and bold taste one associates with coffee but without the bitter and acid notes. The flavor is smooth and bold and the lack of any caustic elements makes sweeteners absolutely unnecessary. For those who can't typically manage drinking coffee black, this would be the cup of java that changes your mind.
It is by the good will of another individual that I came to sample Kopi Luwak and even though the experience was highly enjoyable I don't think I'll be paying the high price for any further imbibing in the near future. Besides, there's something wholly satisfying about that bitter kick in my horrendously strong coffee... like a raging alcoholic taking a swig from their flask, it's strangely enjoyable to feel the burn, to savor the wonderful flavors and the tasking bitterness all at once. But, on the other hand, it is a lot fun to tell people that you're drinking poo.