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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Scientists Buzzing Over Coffee Loving Civet

September 30, 2010

The small nocturnal Asian palm civet, a carnivore that is famous for excreting coffee beans that are used in gourmet blends and recipes, has been discovered by French scientists to actually be one of three species of civets.

The scientists said Wednesday that the one species, known as Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, should actually be three, according to molecular testing at the Museum of National History in Paris.

The species have developed separately in different habitats — northeastern India, southeast Asia, and parts of Borneo and the Philippines.

The tree-dwelling palm civets are best known for the coffee beans they eat and then excrete. The beans are then collected and used to make a smooth-tasting Indonesian coffee called Kopi Luwak.

The beans come from the ripest fruits eaten by the civet, which are boasted to pass through its digestive tract unscathed, enhanced by enzymes. The beans are roasted before being sold for up to 227 dollars per pound. Only 440 pounds of the coffee are produced each year.

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