The search for Genuine Weasel Coffee in Vietnam…

While relaxing in our hotel in the heart of the old quarter in Hanoi, I read in the guide book about Weasel coffee. Now as an owner of pet ferrets this kind of appealed to me. A coffee brewed from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of a Weasel, I mean how cool is that! So begun a long and often highly caffeinated search for the real thing.

First a little bit of background, the so called Vietnamese Weasel or Chon as it known locally is actually the Asian Palm Civet not a Weasel at all. The process of digestion alters the beans flavour making for a very smooth and strong but not bitter brew. This is a coffee that is exceptionally rare ( I mean how many coffee eating Civet’s can there be) and expensive. One coffee house in Australia sells it for $55.00 a cup. The Weasel coffee company in New Zealand sells it for $80.00 for 100 grams when they can get it. So you get the picture.

Cute Civet in a tourist shop… But, Sorry no real weasel coffee sold here.

The problem is that the Vietnamese have perfected a roasting process that mimic’s that of the digestive tract of the weasel, clever folks! You might just shell out a whole lot of cash for nothing more than a specially roasted bean. First up I started my search with the coffee sellers in Hang Bac street of which there are a dozen or so all claiming of course to have the real thing.

After an afternoon of tasting and high pressure sales talk, I returned to the hotel dejected but rather wired I must admit. Could I trust any of them? Was there any real Weasel coffee to be found here or was it all a sham. So I turned to the internet to do some serious research. Much more informed now I set out to do more tasting and haggling with these sellers.

First thing I realised in my research was that my chances of locating some Real Weasel poo coffee where in fact close to zero. Almost a myth but not quite… Weasel coffee is produced in quantities of a few hundred kilograms a year. Not to be put off by this fact I decided that I would look for the best tasting Weasel coffee real or not I could find.

Tastes awesome, but no it is not the real thing…

Once again I set off to do the rounds of all the shops again, this time with my trusty wife/anthropologist Monica at my side. A couple of hours later and starting to feel a tad nauseous from all the strong coffee, we entered into the last shop. I went ahead and asked my question. “Do you have any real Chon coffee”… Not the stuff in the containers labeled Weasel? The young fellow said Yes of course he had some real Chon coffee. Oh really?

Well all of a sudden we were ushered out to the back room and seated at a small table next to the bathroom, all kind of secret agent like. Several minutes later we were presented with a cup of black coffee each. One more cup can’t hurt or could it? Monica eyed me with a look that said this is it the real poo coffee? Because if it is I’m not drinking it… Come on I said having already tasted mine it’s heavenly, by far the best coffee yet. So in the name of science she took a sip. Hmmm… “Very good now are we going to buy some or just keep looking” ? Ah that is a good point. So we ended up with a bag full of beans, of one of the best damn coffees I have ever had… and even if it isn’t weasel poo. I don’t care as we had a hell of a lot of fun searching for it.

Postscript:

I also purchased a box of Trung Nguyen Legendee coffee which unfortunately is sold to tourists as the real thing ( it is not,  it is a replicated Weasel coffee) for up to $70.00. You should be able to find it for around the $10-15.00 mark so be aware of this. It comes in a big bright yellow box of 500 grams ( sealed with a hologram sticker) and is produced by Vietnam’s best coffee producer. We did not have the chance to try it until we got home.

I have to say if you are going to buy just one Weasel poo type coffee then this is the one. Read about it here Legendee Coffee. The use by date is on the box prefixed by HSD. Happy hunting!

Postscript:

I have now returned to Vietnam a second time and many countries such as Australia have banned the importation of  weasel coffee from the country! So be careful what you call your coffee.

 

 

13 thoughts on “The search for Genuine Weasel Coffee in Vietnam…

  1. My wife and I just returned from Vietnam and we purchased a kilo of Chon from Trung Nguyen. I have used it in my coffee maker and it is ok but not nearly as good as the coffee we had in Vietnam. Do you know if there is a special way to brew this coffee?

    • Your coffee maker is definitely not for Vietnamese coffee because the taste must be strong and your coffee maker adds too much water. You’d better go for the filter (of course Vietnamese style)!

  2. I’ll be traveling to Vietnam and would like the shop name to buy the real Chon deal.

    Can you provide it?

    Thx!

  3. A restaurant I used to work at in Vancouver, BC Canada (Trafalgars Bistro) serves the Trung Nguyen “weasel coffee” – what a dreamy cup of deliciousness!!
    Served piping hot & strong with a hearty pour of evaporated milk, this beverage is among the best I have ever had!
    If you haven’t, you MUST try a cup!!

  4. Hello,

    Good hunting for the Vietnamese poo coffee. I am an Australian coffee addict or Australian Coffee over consumer. Can you email me the name of the shop that yoou bought the “real coffee chom”?
    I just returned from Hanoi and bought some Legendee coffee to try. I failed to find the real stuff so far.

    I was overdosed on Viet coffee for a week in Hanoi , so far I still looking for the good coffee in Hanoi , rather than the street average.

    My email is – ckchan@iprimus.com.au

    Thanks.
    Regards,
    Francis

    • Hi Francis,
      The shop is in the old quarter in Hang Buon street there are about 5 shops all in a row try them all out.
      Just beware of the high pressure sales tactics :)

  5. Hi,
    Just got back from Vietnam and can honestly say that I toured the coffee plantations just outside Dalat. One had the weasels in cages where they are fed the ripest berries and beside the cages were two large burlap bags full of feces that looked like miniature corn on the cob. $300.00 US a kilo after washing drying and roasting. Tried the coffee and it is excellent but too expensive for my budget.
    Doug,
    Gibsons BC

    • Hi Doug,
      Yes the good old weasel coffee does exist. I saw a show on TV about it recently here in OZ but most major coffee suppliers in Vietnam do not want to be involved with the animal rights issue of caged animals ( pretty funny when you have seen how animals are treated in general there). There is a New Zealand based coffee roaster that sells it for a pretty steep price but it is always out of stock?

  6. Good article about this weasel coffee….
    Just came back from Vietnam and found your blog on this.

    Thanks.

  7. you should see this to realize what is the pure weasel coffee and what is the fake weasel coffee ? check your info at weaselcoffees.com
    Weasel Coffee – fact or myth?

    Well, a little of both.

    The coffee grown for centuries in this part of the world has traditionally been the Robusta variety. Robusta can be down-right overwhelming, with a strong coffee flavor and somewhat higher levels of caffeine. Many coffee ‘snobs’ won’t give you a plug nickel for Robusta coffee. It is, however, the most widely-grown coffee variety in the world, and Vietnam is the second-largest producer behind Brazil.

    Somehow, it was discovered that certain weasels (or civets, or ‘luwak’, depending on the country), dine nightly on the best, ripest coffee cherries; my guess is that the farmers were none too happy about this at first. At some point in time, some brave person decided to try and make coffee from the partially-digested beans that had passed through the weasel. The result was the amazing transformed coffee that we know as “Kopi Luwak, or “Weasel”, with its distinctive rich aroma and smooth, mocha flavor and texture.

    The streets of every major Southeast-Asian city are crammed with small coffee-houses and shops that cater to locals and tourists alike. In Hanoi, for example, you cannot walk down a street in Hoan Kiem without having to scoot around a stack of plastic jars labeled “Weasel 1, Weasel 2″, and so on, the numbers designating the quality of the coffee contained therein. Observation tells us that there are not enough Weasels in Asia to produce the amount of coffee that is labeled Weasel, just in Hanoi alone! Often quoted is the number 700 Kg, or about 1,500 pounds of Weasel coffee produced every year. That would make the retail price of authentic pure Weasel coffee around $300 per pound!

    So, the reality is that authentic Weasel coffee does in fact exist. It is safe and throroughly clean, probably cleaner than regular coffee, and it does taste wonderful if you like smooth, mellow, rather sweet coffee that is more like mocha than “cafe Americano”. And, as a tourist attraction and something to do on your “bucket list”, it has its place. But are you going to drink $300/llb. coffee on a regular basis?

    Hardly.

    We picked the Weasel to represent Weasel brand Premium Vietnamese coffees, because he (or she?) represents the best coffee that Vietnam has to offer. Our coffees are blends of the finest, small-plantation, small batch, roasted coffee cherries, selected by the farmers and the Weasels. Our two top coffees do contain a small amount of authentic, Weasel coffee. It’s what gives them their earthy, smoky, mocha-like flavor and texture. For everyday drinking, it’s Daily Delight, which is a perfectly-balanced blend of Robusta and Arabica, strong on flavor, higher in caffeine, but with less indigestion afterwards (higher pH level, for you scientists). So skip the $3.00 metal cylinder and savor a cup of delicious Weasel coffee instead, you will be the envy of your cubicle!

    Now, before you tell me that you only drink Arabica coffee (and good for you, it is a great coffee as well!), I should tell you that the majority of Vietnamese coffee is consumed in Europe. And folks, they can’t grow coffee there, so many of these great European coffees are made from Vietnamese robusta. In fact, Nestle is the largest single buyer of Vietnamese coffee.

  8. Hi all,

    I have information about the Weasel coffee in Vietnam. Last year, my uncle who was from Malaysia asking me to find this coffee for him, he said it was USD 3000/kg. I didnt beleive it, I am a Vietnamese and I have never heard that Weasel coffee would worth that price. So since we visited Hanoi, we searched all the famous coffee shops for it, but the most expensive coffee is only USD 50/kg. And they were just the name “weasel coffee” but it was not the real one, the seller told us.

    After a few months, I finally found it.
    Please check out those photos

    http://m1261.photobucket.com/albumview/albums/tovbkhoa/Snapbucket/13DC529B.jpg.html?o=0

    Surprisingly, it is under Trung Nguyen, the price for 250grm is USD800 and 1kg is at USD 3000. There is one photos I took the 2 package ( Weasel vs. Legendee) Legendee is only USD 10 but Weasel is USD 800 for the same weight and similar packing. They even come with a leather roll state how precious this coffee is… normally its gifted to leaders of nations “qua tang nguyen thu”.

  9. Pingback: The best coffee ever | Impressions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s