Feces is not usually a topic discussed during dinner.
But at two South Beach restaurants, turd-related discourse is practically impossible to avoid; poop is a key ingredient in one of the most prestigious menu items.
Vix at Hotel Victor, located in the heart of Ocean Drive, and Barton G, the highbrow quasi-outdoor joint on West Avenue, serve a gourmet coffee with origins in steaming piles of dung dumped by a small Indonesian animal called a civet, a catlike creature that lives in trees and chows on ripe, red coffee cherries.
People pick out the cherries, dry 'em, and run some hot water through the result to make stuff called kopi luwak. It goes for $45 at Vix and $40 at the G man's. With tax and tip, that could set you back $54 per cup. Or you can order it online from www.animalcoffee.com for around $300 per pound.
And it sells. Barton G's Raymond Rosen, who has the fancy title of client liaison, says the restaurant has consistently sold about twenty cups per month since listing kopi luwak on the menu almost two years ago. Vix peddles the same amount.
So to help boost sales, New Times has devised an ad for what we like to call crappuccino.
Two young, attractive, impossibly skinny women sit at an impeccable table under a perfect tree canopy.
Monica: That was a delicious meal. But I wish I didn't feel so lethargic.
Mary: You just need a little pick-me-up.
Monica: But I promised Estebán I'd quit the coke.
Mary: Not that kind of upper. I have another idea.
Monica: You do know we're not at the Delano, right?
Mary: Madge, trust me. Waiter, two kopi luwak coffees.
The handsome lad returns, carrying a pair of steaming cups. The ladies take a sip.
Monica: What a strange, musty aroma. It tastes almost like caramel.
Mary: Well, um, yeah. It's made from civet dung.
Monica: You mean this is (frowns and then spits petitely into her hand) ... shit?
Mary: Not at all. Indonesians remove coffee beans from the shit. Then they wash it.
Monica: Sounds expensive.
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Mary: Yup, and only about 500 pounds are made each year.
Monica: But it's worth it. A morning cup of joe helps increase bowel flow.
Monica: So every time I do a bump, I'll want to dump, which means I'll stay superslim.
Mary: Cool. Waiter, bring two more.