In Tausug dialect, “kahawa” means coffee and “kubing” civet. So “kahawa kubing” is the local name for civet coffee, or the Sulu palm civet, a large nocturnal carnivore, apparently from the Viverridae family, which eats ripe coffee beans.
The inner part of the coffee bean is not digested, but the animal’s digestive enzymes attack the exterior, eliminating the bitter tasting part. The bean ferments in its stomach for about 12/24 hours, developing a characteristic flavour and, once expelled, these beans are washed and sold as green coffee beans.
The organoleptic particularity of this coffee is that the bitterness is minimum and there is a chocolate aftertaste.
After washing and shelling the beans, and once the green beans are sufficiently dry, containing only about 11-12% humidity, they are roasted or packaged to sell to coffee roasters.
The coffee is made by Muslim women and converted former rebels who formed a cooperative in 2008, which today has about 2,000 members. The cooperative produces Sulu Royal coffee in two varieties; the original blend and civet coffee, a significant economic resource for the entire population that surrounds it, from the labourers who produce the coffee to the farmers who grow the beans to the transporters.
Civet droppings are from wild animals in the forest, but in other parts of the country there is intensive breeding of animals kept in cages and force-fed. Civet coffee over the past few years has acquired a certain notoriety which caused the animals to be exploited. Apart from being brutally treated in captivity, civets are also threatened by massive deforestation in the area.
Zibetto coffee is drunk American-style.