You may have heard the saying “coffee is made from poop” before, and while it may sound like a gross oversimplification, there’s actually some truth to it. But don’t worry, the coffee you’re drinking isn’t made from actual animal feces.
Instead, the coffee bean that we all know and love is the seed of the coffee plant, and it just so happens that, in some cases, these seeds pass through the digestive system of certain animals before being collected and roasted for our enjoyment.
The coffee plant is a flowering shrub belonging to the Rubiaceae family, including plants like gardenias and roses. These plants produce berries, also known as coffee cherries, and each cherry contains two seeds, which we call coffee beans.
Now, here’s where the “poop” comes in. In some parts of the world, such as Ethiopia and Indonesia, coffee cherries are eaten by animals like elephants and civets, which then digest the cherries and excrete the seeds. These seeds are collected from the animal feces, cleaned, roasted, and eventually ground up to make the coffee we brew and drink.
How is Wild Coffee Harvested?
This method of harvesting coffee is called “wild” or “civet” coffee, and it’s often considered a delicacy because of the unique flavors imparted to the beans during the digestive process. The enzymes in the civet’s digestive system break down the proteins in the coffee cherries, resulting in a smoother, less acidic cup of coffee. Yummy!
But don’t worry, most of our coffee isn’t made from poop. In fact, the vast majority of the world’s coffee is harvested using a much more conventional method. The coffee cherries are picked by hand or machinery, and the seeds are extracted and processed using water or mechanical means.
So, while it’s true that some coffee is ‘made from poop,’ it’s not the norm. And even if you do happen to stumble upon some wild or civet coffee, rest assured that the beans are thoroughly cleaned and roasted before they make their way into your cup.
But why go through all this trouble to collect coffee seeds from animal feces, you ask? Well, for one, it’s a unique and delicious flavor experience. But there’s also a financial incentive. Wild or civet coffee can fetch a much higher price than regular coffee, making it a valuable commodity in some parts of the world.
So the next time someone tells you that coffee is made from poop, you can confidently nod your head and explain the process to them. And who knows, maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some wild or civet coffee for yourself to see what all the fuss is about.
Is Wild Coffee Safe to Drink?
It’s important to note that the process of collecting coffee seeds from animal feces is not without controversy. The treatment of civets, in particular, has been a concern for animal welfare groups.
Civets are sometimes kept in small, cramped cages and force-fed coffee cherries to produce a higher yield of beans.
This practice, known as “cage trapping,” has been criticized for causing unnecessary animal suffering.
Additionally, there are concerns about the potential health risks associated with consuming coffee beans that animals have partially digested. While the beans are thoroughly cleaned before roasting, there is still a risk of contamination with bacteria and other pathogens.
Despite these concerns, the demand for wild and civet coffee continues to grow, and some producers are taking steps to ensure that their beans are sourced humanely and ethically. For example, some civet coffee producers allow the animals to roam freely and only collect the beans from their feces when they are found in the wild.
In conclusion, while it may be a gross oversimplification to say that coffee is made from poop, there is some truth to the saying. In some parts of the world, coffee seeds are collected from the feces of animals like elephants and civets.
This method of harvesting coffee is often considered a delicacy and can fetch a higher price than regular coffee. However, the treatment of the animals involved and the potential health risks associated with the process have sparked controversy and concern.
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