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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 11:57 GMT
'Civet coffee' sells - despite Sars
Experts say that the coffee has a unique aroma
Fears that Chinese civet cats may help to spread Sars have lead to thousands of the animals being slaughtered, but they do not seem to have affected demand for a rare coffee harvested with the animals' help in Indonesia.

"Kopi Luwak" or " Civet Coffee" is made with beans that have been partially digested and then excreted by civets.

The animals live in plantations and are apparently expert at picking out the finest coffee berries.

Their digestive systems break down the fruit and then expel the beans.

These are gathered by plantation workers who then wash off the dung and roast the beans to produce a coffee which experts say has a unique flavour.

"Our coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma," Agus Susanto, a Jakarta cafe owner told the Associated Press news agency.

He said he was still selling Kopi Luwak, even though China has exterminated thousands of civets in recent weeks because of an apparent link to the Sars virus.

"There are many different kinds of civets in this world The Indonesian ones are different from those in China", said Mr Susanto.

Victor Mah, a coffee dealer from Singapore, told the BBC that the quantities of the coffee were "miniscule" and it was unlikely that anyone would have had it without knowing it.

China confirms two new Sars cases
17 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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