For most Americans, coffee brewed from coffee cherries that have made their way through a civet’s digestive system might be an acquired taste. (Civets, by the way, are a species of nocturnal mammals related to the mongoose.)
But some people swear by it. As Norimitsu Onishi explains in the New York Times, “The civet eventually excretes the hard, indigestible innards of the fruit—essentially, incipient coffee beans—though only after they have been fermented in the animal’s stomach acids and enzymes to produce a brew described as smooth, chocolaty and devoid of any bitter aftertaste.”
Known as Kopi Luwak in Indonesia, civet coffee is expensive due in large part to a growing demand for the already limited supply. There are critics—like coffee expert Oliver Strand, who also writes for the NYT—who point out animal rights violations and an overall lack of quality control.
If the idea of civet coffee just doesn’t appeal, then you might not want to know that you’ve likely had an encounter with the animal’s bodily processes already. Along with generating expensive coffee, they also emit a musk that Chanel used to deploy in its fragrances—most notably, Chanel No. 5.