Rural Living

Strange Brew

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

I recently came across a news bit that grabbed my attention: “Muslims cleared to drink coffee from dung.”

First, let me say that I love my coffee. I adore it. The thought of coffee is what propels me out of bed every morning. For the first 20-some years of my life, I had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about coffee. Then, I moved to Key West and, after a particular night of the type Key West is famous for, had a cup of café con leche.

Caramba! Ai, yi, yi! There is nothing better than a steaming cup of Café Bustelo in the morning. And just one cup will do me for the day. Go ahead — drink your seven cups of bland, brackish American coffee, or your three venti lattes at five bucks a pop. Give me one cup of Bustelo, and I’m more than good to go.

I stalk the aisles of grocery stores far and wide for Bustelo. There’s no telling if, or where, I’ll find it. Could be in the coffee aisle, could be in international foods. No matter; if it’s there, I’ll hunt it down and capture as many cans as I can carry. Right now, there are eight containers in my pantry. I’m running low.

“Proper” coffee is a concern when I’m out of town. Thus, I am perhaps one of the few who travels with a cappuccino machine in the trunk of the car. You won’t find a battery charger or a space blanket there, but by golly, give me an electrical outlet and a water source, and I’ll be revved up in no time. I’ve got it down to a science. It’s one of the reasons I rarely fly on an airplane these days. Alas, there is no longer a way to smuggle the machine past security.

But let’s get back to the Muslims, who are now cleared to drink coffee from dung. Huh? First, the headline is rather confusing. Still, common sense tells us they probably aren’t pouring the coffee into mugs made of dung. That leaves one option. And that, too, defies common sense.

Turns out, Indonesia’s Islamic leaders have decided it’s okay for followers to drink civet coffee. It is extracted from the dung of the civet — a breed of wild cat. The coffee is known as Kopi Luwak. Muslims may now partake of it, provided the coffee beans have been washed. Well, duh!

How in the world does such a thing get “discovered”? Who was the first person who thought, gee, maybe if we scoop up this pile of wild civet poop, and roast it, it’ll make a tasty drink? How desperate for a cup of coffee could one be, in order to imagine such a thing? I’d like to get a look at him or her, from a safe distance. I believe such a person is inherently dangerous.

According to the news article — and believe me, this is news — the civets roam the jungles of Indonesia throughout the night, snacking on hard beans that grow there. I guess if you’re a civet, it might be the equivalent of a granola power bar. These beans then ferment in their stomachs. (Anyone who enjoys Mexican food can tell you all about that.) The end result, naturally, can be found scattered hither and yon throughout the jungle. The article did not reveal when, or how, the dung is collected, or who performs that job.

I can see the Help Wanted ad now: “Jungle Hunters needed! Do you enjoy working in the out-of-doors? Are you adventuresome? Do you take pride in your lack of squeamishness? Do you consider yourself a “cat person”? We need your skills! This thrill-filled endeavor is not for everyone; but, the right applicant can earn up to three dollars per day! Benefits include free coffee.”

It was reported that Kopi Luwak coffee is “highly prized for its smooth flavor and lack of bitter aftertaste.” I’ll take their word for it.

At $200 per pound, Kopi Luwak is the world’s most expensive coffee. That fact alone assures it is destined to make it big in America any time now. It will no doubt become what Hollywood stars are sipping as they tool around Beverly Hills in their Bentleys. Look for it soon in a Safeway near you.

It will probably be easier to find than Bustelo, which costs about $4 a can.


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