Waste seems to be a global evil. We express our disdain for waste in constant verbal vulgarities. Cultures follow traditions and apply rules in an effort to distance themselves from the most natural waste form: the culmination of the digestive process. Nevertheless, waste is not only inevitable but a crucial cycle. Waste is an essence of existence, an essence in existence, and essential for growth, maintenance and procreation. In nature it is omnipresent.
Long before humans developed an interest and need for lexica, nature has been creating its own proliferation systems to ensure and maintain life. Huge mammals of earlier times contributed to the propagation of avocados by eating them and later discarding their seeds as they moved on. The same process is achieved when birds feast on asparagus seeds, or when elephants eat certain fruits whole.
Apparently someone, long time ago, took the dare or suspected something grand in the taste that coffee might have, once digested by the animals that love coffee berries. As a result, today we have kopi codotand kopi luwak. One coffee gets eaten and digested by a specific bat (codot), the other by a small civet cat, known in Indonesia as luwak – the one on Morgan Freeman’s bucket list.
While in Bandung, I went to Kedai Kopi Wak Jenggot and ordered their arabica kopi codot. In Indonesian, a bat is a ‘kelelawar’ but the specific bat that likes coffee is the ‘codot’. My brew was served in the Sunda tradition which calls for a small roasted sweet potato on the side (instead of a cookie or chocolate, as it is common in parts of Europe).
Before questioning such coffee in hygienic matters, it is important to grasp that once the seeds of the coffee berries are cleaned, the roasting process will obviously destroy any fecal rests that might still be attached to the seed. When addressing the influence on its taste, one should consider how much a solid coffee seed could go through changes in taste, simply by being processed some twenty hours through gastric acids. Based on the brews I have had from digested coffee, the coffee taste prevails. The acidity level seems reduced but the taste profile does not go through changes worth noting.
The greatest problem judging these coffees with total accuracy, is the fact that one would need to know with certainty, which coffee seeds were digested by a specific civet, before harvesting the same seeds and roasting the digested ones and the undigested equally, to compare their taste one to one. This creates the problem that one would have to follow a wild civet for a couple of days to ensure the accuracy of the comparison. It might take me a while to realize such a project. Until then, this remains a somewhat dark area in the tasting of seeds digested by animals.