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How About A Nice Cup Of Civet Poop Coffee?

This is a civet, a sort of a visual relative of the cat-snake.It poops coffee.
Yes, I know this rare and elusive cat-snake lives in Bali, but because Japan is the world magnet for weird food experiences, the only place I’ve ever discovered a shop where I could order a cup of civet poop coffee is in Tokyo.

The kopi luwat civet poops coffee. Or, to be more precise, it climbs to the top of coffee trees, eats the ripest beans, digests the fruity bits around the seed and, er, leaves the rest for industrious pooper-scoopers to turn into the world’s weirdest brew.

The poop in its native habitat. You're welcome.
The poop in its native habitat. You’re welcome.

Of course, once I spied a weird old-fashioned coffee bar near Shinjuku station with a kopi luwak coffee bag in the window, there was no turning back. The shop was closed when I saw it, but I girded up my coffee tastebuds and went back the next day.

Why is it that all serious coffee bars in Tokyo seem to have been caught in some sort of 1940s timeslip?
This is the Tajimaya Coffeeten. (Why is it that all the serious coffee bars in Tokyo seem to have been caught in some sort of 1940s timeslip?)

I took a deep breath, boldly went in, sat down at the counter, waved away the menu and ordered the house specialty. It was only then that I noticed that AIEEEE all that combined cat-snake and pooper-scooper effort doesn’t come cheap!

Yeah, I did a double-take too! This is a $30 cup of coffee.

OMG, $30 for a cup of coffee? Too late to back out now, though – the coffee lady behind the counter hands me an official-looking document* to read while I’m waiting, and begins hand dripping my precious beans. By now I’m watching anxiously, really really really hoping that I don’t detect any notes of dog park or litter tray in that first sip.

This is it.
It looks reassuringly like the thing you can get at any Starbucks. Which you can’t, because $30 poop coffee.

Okay. This is it. The moment of truth. Grandmotherly china cup? Check. Silver spoon? Check. It looks like coffee. It smells like coffee. And…it tastes like coffee. Actually, it tastes like really good coffee. Pretty delicious, in fact. Not even a whiff of poopiness detected.

This is poop coffee with cream.
For the sake of science, I doctor it with a little cream. Yep, still good.

So, was it worth $30? As cups of coffee go, I’ve honestly gotta say it was good, but not THAT good. As a way to win every dinner party forever, though? Priceless!

*The certificate attests that the beans were collected ethically from wild civets, not from questionably farmed animals, which sort of explains why it’s so expensive. You know, fair trade and all, which made me feel a bit better about the crazy price.

If you’d like to visit the Tajimaya Coffeeten the next time you’re in Tokyo, it’s at 1-2-6 Shinjuku, and a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d HadTip o’ the Thank You Beanie to valbemar.com for the poop photo.

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

3 thoughts on “How About A Nice Cup Of Civet Poop Coffee? Leave a comment

  1. Love it. We visited a cat poop coffee farm in Bali last year but alas I didn’t try the goods. I do remember the days of insanely overpriced coffee here. I once tried a 2000yen cup just to find out and it was the same barn varnish horrible most Japanese coffee was before the Starbucks revolution.

    • It’s weird, but I thought coffee was universally awful here until Starbucks raised the bar too, but this shop and Cafe Bechet seem like they’ve been quietly hand dripping coffee in Tokyo for decades. (I do remember the bad old pre-Staba days, though, when they TRIED to make all coffee taste like instant! UGH.)

    • Barn Varnish, yes starbucks has made barn varnish popular. A good cup is single origin, light to medium roast, and fresh. Starbucks serves beans that have been rated up to 6 months ago. (Coffee is considered stale after 2 weeks)

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