comes from the Indonesian words for coffee
. A civet is a cat-like creature who slinks around eating sweet red coffee cherries in Indonesia. Finicky like a cat, they only eat the best of the harvest, chewing off the exterior and swallowing the hard inner core of the bean. Once digested, the beans emerge in the usual way - amid the animal's dung. The trip through the digestive system has removed the harshness and most of the caffeine and the result is a mellow coffee bean that sells for as much as $600 a pound. Once you separate it from the dung, of course.
One pound of civet droppings will produce less than 5 ounces of beans - and roasting reduces the quantity even more. Only 500 to 1,000 pounds hit the global market each year, which explains the extremely high price of this coffee. Left unanswered, however, is just whose idea it was to pick through civet dung in the first place.