Other names of weasel coffee you may have heard of are kopi luwak, civet coffee, and cat poop coffee. In Vietnam, we call it “ca phe chon”, and it is one of the most luxurious coffees in the world
Is Vietnam Weasel Coffee Made from Poop?
Yes and no. The coffee beans are collected from the weasel droppings, but the final product is cleaned thoroughly before processing. So, there is no poop in your cup of coffee, which is a good start to consider should you try weasel coffee in Vietnam.
The regular beans for Vietnamese coffee are ripe coffee cherries picked by hand. Then, the qualified cherries are grounded to remove the pips from the flesh, and the beans are fermented in tanks for 24 – 36 hours. After that, they will be dried on racks in a tented house, protected from the sun, rain, and insects, and roasted until they have a dark brown color.
The final products of both coffees are not much different in look. The main difference between weasel coffee beans is that the flesh-removing and fermenting processes happen inside the weasel’s organ.
The feces from the weasel will be cleaned and rinsed to remove the dirt on the outer skin. When dried, the beans become hardened and have a moss-green color. The final step is to roast the beans until they are golden brown and grind them into powder.
Coffee beans still attached to the weasel droppings
Should You Try Weasel Coffee in Vietnam?
Weasel coffee is sold worldwide and across Vietnam. It is exported as powder or raw material (beans still attached in the dropping). It differs slightly from civet coffee from Indonesia because they are two different species. Therefore, the best place to truly taste weasel coffee is in Vietnam. However, the production method is another factor to consider when you wonder if you should try weasel coffee in Vietnam.
Lam Dong and Dak Lak in Central Highlands are the two most well-known regions for producing coffee and weasel coffee in Vietnam. There are no official records of the amount of weasel coffee production in Vietnam. The coffee beans collected from weasels in the wild are approximately much less (about 40-50 kg per year) compared to the amount collected from the weasels raised in cages. Many producers boast about producing tonnes of coffee beans per year with the latter method.
However, this approach to making weasel coffee creates significant controversy due to ethical issues. Some farms hold the weasels in narrow wire mesh cages in a dirty environment and force-feed them an unbalanced diet with only coffee cherries. This has made environmental enthusiasts create campaigns against it.
History of Vietnam Weasel Coffee
Under French colonization, forests in the Central Highlands of Vietnam developed coffee plantations along with the tea-growing industry in the early 20th century. Consequently, weasel coffee came into being. The animal was once a pest, coming to the plantation, eating coffee cherries, and crapping out the beans. Because the regular coffee beans were only for the privileges, such as French colonists and nobles of the Nguyen dynasty, the poor Vietnamese farmers collected the “poops” and tried to make coffee with them. Weasel coffee in Vietnam became more widespread when the sensation of the Indonesian kopi luwak took the world by storm in the 1990s.
Does Vietnam Weasel Coffee Taste Different from Regular Coffee?
This would depend on the person’s taste buds’ sensitivity. The taste, color, and smell of coffee liquid slightly differ from those of regular coffee beans. The color is lighter because of the roasting process. The coffee is still distinct by its bitter taste, chocolate brown color, and earthy smell from the roasted beans.
Moka weasel coffee
Robusta weasel coffee
Where to Try Weasel Coffee in Vietnam?
Many places, like Ben Thanh Market and supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City, sell packaged weasel coffee powder and raw beans. The price ranges from VND 600,000 to VND 10,000,000 per kg. The discrepancy in the price is due to the transporting fees, the coffee-bean-producing process, and the ratio of weasel coffee beans in the powder. However, these products’ sources, authenticity, and quality might be unclear, so make sure to buy from reputable retailers.
Another option is to go to showrooms, where they sell drinks made from weasel coffee beans. One of the places puts up the price at VND 165,000/75 gram for Robusta beans and VND 300,000/75 gram for Mocha beans (with 10% of weasel coffee beans and 90% regular coffee beans). However, as there is no farm in Ho Chi Minh City, you cannot see the whole process of turning the beans from weasel droppings into a hot cup of coffee.
If you want to stop by a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City that serves weasel coffee, you can visit Legend Revived Weasel Coffee – 49 Hau Giang, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City
Coffee maker on display
The best way to have weasel coffee in Vietnam is at the actual sources, which are farms in Dak Lak, Da Lat, and Lam Dong. Here, you can visit the farm where the farmers collect the beans, and see the weasel, their living conditions, and the coffee production process.
Are There Health Benefits to Drinking Weasel Coffee?
To answer the question, should you try weasel coffee in Vietnam, you may need to read this part. The scientific reports on the health benefits of weasel coffee are controversial and could be manipulated to the interests of producers and protestors.
It is believed that the cherry selection and the chemical reactions inside the weasel’s organ make weasel coffee unique. Enzymes of the weasel will reduce the amount of caffeine, break down the protein particles into amino acids, and extract different kinds of sugar from the starch of the bean. That is why the weasel coffee has a smoother texture, better smell, and sweeter taste. The lower amounts of protein and caffeine make Weasel coffee healthier than regular coffee.
Vietnam weasel coffee can be made with the luxury siphon to preserve the smell and taste
Vietnamese-style weasel coffee – milk coffee with a simple “phin” filter
Conclusion on Should You Try Weasel Coffee in Vietnam?
Weasel coffee is one of the most luxurious drinks, but some might consider it animal cruelty. You might want to take in two factors if you try the weasel coffee in Vietnam. Firstly, it is the origin of weasel coffee; thus, you can enjoy it most authentically. Secondly, you can go to the sources and decide if they are authentic and how the producers treat the animals.
However, you should note that increasing demands for Vietnam weasel coffee can endanger the weasels. Some producers that go after big profits, large production, and expense cutting may overexploit the weasels for the coffee beans.
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