Weasel, cat dung, civet coffee… whatever you call it, it’s back in the news. This time traveler Jon Brand reports on his experience in Vietnam with café cut chon, which literally means “coffee civet cat dung”. Kind of sounds enticing doesn’t it? It seems If you travel to Vietnam, you have to try all the coffee. Brand lucked out - he thought he was trying weasel dung coffee, the delicacy that has coffee lovers talking about it from one end of the internet to the other. This delicacy is so gourmet that a cup of the brew can cost $80 or more. Yet his sweet delicacy only took $2.70 out of his wallet. What gives? Civet cat coffee is a hot product of the Philippines and Indonesia. Brand sets the record straight on the animal, who is really a mongoose relative, not a cat, by the way. But he was in Vietnam, where coffee brewers have perfected a Vietnamese version of cat dung coffee - cat dung coffee without the dung, or the cat. It’s actually a synthetic version. Where the actual civet coffee, normally called Kopi Luwak, is brewed of beans chewed, swallowed and processed in the mongoose-like animal’s intestines and then pooped out, Vietnamese Kopi Luwak eliminates the middleman, er, middle cat? Clearly the civets ask enormous salaries, because the cat-less Kopi Luwak costs a fraction of the price of the actual version. The Vietnamese have perfected a process in which vegetable enzymes - rather than an animal’s - ferment and process the beans. Though we’ve reported previously on the Kopi Luwak, (http://www.roaste.com/CafeRoaste/News/2011/01/30/What%E2%80%99s-Kopi-Luw... and http://www.roaste.com/CafeRoaste/News/2011/04/30/Cat-poo-chino-Do-Your-L... and http://www.roaste.com/CafeRoaste/News/2011/03/10/Coffee-Cats-Meow-5607 ), we haven’t heard a firsthand report from someone who drank the synthetic. Jon Brand didn’t know which kind of Kopi Luwak he was drinking until later, but he found the coffee to be better than expected. He reports, “I braced myself for pungent, earthy flavors. Instead, the coffee was smooth and rich, all salty caramel and bittersweet chocolate. The sharp bite that I had come to associate with Vietnamese coffee was nonexistent.” So there you go. You can get both the authentic Kopi Luwak and the Vietnamese vegetarian version at ROASTe. See below for a few selections.