For a while there, it looked like kopi luwak, the Indonesian coffee extracted from the dung of an Asian palm civet, had lost its novelty, at least on the internet, where it seems to go viral every couple of years. The horrendous conditions in which civets are kept in captivity has given the coffee an ethical dimension along the lines of foie gras and veal. Nowadays, according to Tony Wild, who was the first to import civet coffee to the West—and regrets doing so—it’s virtually impossible to tell if the beans plucked from civet poop come from a wild animal or one kept in a cage. That means, if you care about these elegant, nocturnal animals (which aren’t cats, exactly, though their coveted beans are often referred to as cat poop coffee), you might want to avoid kopi luwak.
Of course, that isn’t very hard, since you probably wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway. Even the rapper 2 Chainz was incredulous when he went cupping with a friend recently. No, it wasn’t Michael Phelps, and it wasn’t that kind of cupping. On the latest installment of GQ video series, “Most Expensivest Shit”—whose title never seemed more apt—the Georgia rapper drank some very expensive civet coffee, prepared by Jeremy Kuempel, the founder of Blossom Coffee, whose top-of-the-line equipment goes for thousands of dollars.
After Kuempel explains what civet coffee is—natural enzymes in the civet’s intestinal tract make the coffee bean, which comes from a cherry, less bitter and more appealing—he and 2 Chainz prepare a cup. 2 Chainz admits, near the end of the segment, that he isn’t an avid coffee drinker, so his flavor assessment may not be the most nuanced there is. Still, given the gouged price of kopi luwak—it goes for $600 a pound, Kuempel says—shouldn’t any lay drinker be able to tell the difference between kopi luwak and a non-fecal cup?
“Hell no,” 2 chainz says, after taking a sip of the most expensive coffee in the world and contemplating its flavor for a few moments. “These cups of coffee should come with fucking iPhones or something,” 2 Chainz says. A firm verdict. If 2 Chainz doesn’t like civet coffee—or at least can’t tell why it’s supposed to be good—then why should the rest of us?