There are a lot of coffee varieties in the world, but few are as strange as those made using wild animals. You may have heard of kopi luwak, the Indonesian cat coffee made famous by movies like “The Bucket List.” But were you aware that there are lots of other specialty coffees that are “refined” (a euphemism for digested) by animals?
All of these weird specialty coffees come from an animal that eats coffee beans, like a monkey, wild cat, or elephant. In this guide, we’re diving into the strange world of animal poop coffee, providing you with more than you probably ever wanted to know about the world’s grossest coffee.
There are a surprising number of strange coffees. Scroll down to read all about these weird, wild, and gross gourmet coffee beans:
The 5 Strangest Types of Coffee:
1. Kopi Luwak (Cat Poop Coffee)
Animal: Palm civet
Flavor Notes: Earthy, balanced, and not bitter
Price: $400 a pound
Probably the most famous weird coffee, Kopi Luwak is made with the help of palm civets, wild cats that are called “luwaks” in Indonesia. The cats eat the ripe arabica coffee cherries and partially digest them. The resulting coffee beans, which are handpicked from the cats’ feces, are said to be smooth and distinctively flavored.
Recently, Kopi Luwak has come under fire for its animal rights abuses. If you’d like to try this incredibly expensive specialty coffee, we recommend doing a little research — and choosing the right brand.
What does Kopi Luwak taste like? Cat poop coffee is smooth and balanced, with an earthy flavor and a distinct lack of bitterness.
Where can you buy Kopi Luwak? We recommend Volcanica’s Kopi Luwak, which is certified as authentic and wild.
2. Black Ivory (Elephant Poop Coffee)
Flavor Notes: Chocolate, spices, and grass
Price: $1,081 a pound
Origin: Northern Thailand
Elephant dung coffee is exactly what it sounds like. The Black Ivory coffee company feeds coffee beans to elephants and collects their dung. This is one of the world’s most expensive coffees — costing over $1,000 a pound — but fans describe it as delicate and unusual.
What does elephant coffee taste like? This coffee has unusual notes of spices, chocolate, and even grass.
Where can you buy elephant coffee? Buy these pricey beans straight from the Black Ivory coffee company.
3. Monkey Coffee
Animal: Rhesus monkey
Flavor Notes: Citrus, chocolate, and vanilla
Price: $300 a pound
Origin: Chikmagalur, India
This one is technically not an animal poop coffee, since the monkeys that produce it don’t digest the beans. But it’s often mistakenly called monkey shit coffee or monkey poop coffee, so we’re including it.
Monkey coffee comes from Chikmagalur, India, an area with lots of rainforests, beaches, and rhesus monkeys. The monkeys chew on coffee cherries and then spit them out, leaving tooth marks and saliva. The enzymes in the monkey saliva break the bean down somewhat, leaving coffee beans with a different flavor. Interestingly, these coffee beans turn grey after they’re processed, instead of the traditional green!
What does monkey coffee taste like? This is a heavy-bodied, somewhat acidic coffee with interesting notes of vanilla, chocolate, and citrus.
Where can you buy monkey coffee? This coffee’s very hard to find, so you won’t be able to buy it whenever you want. If you want to try it, keep your eyes peeled!
4. Bat Coffee
Flavor Notes: Floral, fruity, and lightly sweet
Price: $200 a pound
Origin: Costa Rica
Though it’s most often called “bat poop coffee” or “bat shit coffee,” this specialty animal coffee doesn’t involve poop at all. Wild bats in Costa Rica land on coffee plants and suck the juice out of ripe coffee cherries. Crucially, they leave the cherries attached to the plant, but with the fruit removed. The coffee bean and chaff, covered in bat spit, sit in the sun drying and being chemically altered by the bat’s digestive enzymes.
What does wild bat coffee taste like? This uniquely processed coffee is known for its floral, fruity, and lightly sweet taste.
Where can you buy bat coffee? This coffee is rare and can be hard to find. Luckily, Sea Island Coffee’s Geisha Wild Bat Coffee is available through the company’s website!
5. South American Bird Coffee
Animal: Jacu bird
Flavor Notes: Nutty with hints of anise
Price: $300 a pound
The last strange coffee on our list comes from Brazil. South American birds called jacus eat ripe coffee cherries. After a day of digestion, they poop them out, leaving partially fermented beans to be handpicked, washed, and dried. The result? Bird poop coffee!
What does bird coffee taste like? This unusual coffee has a full-bodied, nutty flavor with a distinctive hint of anise.
Where can you buy bird coffee? Sea Island Coffee sells Wild Jacu Bird Coffee from Brazil.
Why get coffee beans from animals?
After reading about all of these gross coffees, you probably have one burning question: why? The unique flavors of these coffee beans come from the digestive enzymes of all of these different animals. Whether the beans are passing through a civet cat’s digestive tract or drying on a tree with a bat’s acidic spit, they are changing chemically, fermenting slightly, and producing a distinctive flavor.
Is animal coffee worth it?
Though these strange, expensive coffees certainly have fans, coffee experts don’t necessarily agree that animal coffee is better than other gourmet coffees. In blind taste tests, even the famous kopi luwak doesn’t outperform other high-end beans.
Plus, there are very real ethical concerns about using animals to process coffee. Most kopi luwak is produced by caged civets that are force-fed the beans, resulting in nutritional and behavioral issues. And though the Black Ivory elephant coffee company makes a lot of claims about its social responsibility, it’s hard to say if the elephants benefit from being fed coffee beans.
So should you run out and buy a bag of strange animal coffee? That’s up to you — and your wallet. These specialty coffee beans are incredibly expensive, ethically dubious, and questionably delicious. On the other hand, they are rare with flavors you probably can’t find anywhere else. It’s your call!
Featured image credit: Unsplash