If you’re a coffee lover and into the latest and greatest trends around the world, you may have had cat poop or weasel coffee (traditionally known as kopi luwak or ca phe chon). It’s somewhat rare, which is likely why it has become so coveted lately. I recently had the chance to try this coffee drink and I was eager to get to the, ahem, bottom of its taste.
As for the cat poop, there are no cats involved in the making of ca phe chon that’s popular in Vietnam and across Southeast Asia. The civet, however, is well into the mix of things. This furry, nocturnal mammal is native to the area, and looks a bit like a cat (or a weasel), hence the nicknames. Let’s travel back in time for a moment to when the Dutch introduced coffee in Southeast Asia. Those little civets were known to eat the coffee berries. The berries and seeds would separate in their stomachs, and the seeds (or coffee beans) would become fermented while in there and, well, would eventually get pooped out. The beans would be collected, cleaned, and roasted. And that, my friends, is how we get to cat poop coffee.
Ca phe chon coffee is still around today and can be very expensive to buy because of its rarity (trend alert). Like anything that’s coveted and rare, however, you can get ripped off with either low-quality beans or those that come from questionable sources. I received a gift of this coffee from a friend who’d recently returned from a trip to Vietnam.
I couldn’t wait to try it, since I knew about its legend and popularity. Now, my friend is a true pal, but I’m sure she didn’t spend a fortune on my gift. In fact, she said she picked it up at the airport. The coffee was good, but to me, it didn’t have any distinguishing characteristics from my standard, favorite beans. This type of coffee is said to be smoother, less acidic, and less caffeinated than other coffee due to how it’s processed.
My recommendation? If you’re trying to decide whether or not to pay big bucks for coffee, stick to buying your favorite beans. The money you save will be well spent on, say, a trip to Southeast Asia instead. In the meantime, enjoy this easy-to-make version of Vietnamese iced coffee (cat poop coffee not required).
Vietnamese iced coffee is made with a dark roast coffee combined with sweetened condensed milk and served iced. You’ll love this drink as a tasty afternoon (or anytime) pick-me-up.
While Vietnamese iced coffee is traditionally brewed using a special stainless steel filter, there’s an easier, more Americanized way to do things. If you don’t have the special filter, simply brew a dark roast coffee using an espresso maker or French press. Next, add a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to a heat-proof glass, add the brewed coffee to about 3/4 of the way full, stir, and add ice. Voilà!
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Recipe by Patricia Conte, Brit + Co
- 1/4 cup dark roast coffee, medium ground
- 2 cups hot water
- 4 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, divided
- Combine coffee and hot water in a French press. As the coffee brews, divide the sweetened condensed milk between two (eight-ounce) heat-proof glasses.
- After four minutes, press the coffee, then pour the strained coffee between the two glasses, filled to about 3/4 from the top. Stir to combine.
- Add ice and serve.
For more coffee drink inspiration, head to Pinterest.
(Photos via Patricia Conte / Brit + Co)