Kopi Luwak is a coffee originated in Indonesia, including the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi. Its name is due to the combination of the Indonesian words Kopi, which means coffee and Luwak, civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), the mammal responsible for its production.
Its discovery took place during the Dutch colonial rule in the early 18th century by plantation workers. Forbidden from consuming coffee beans picked from the plants, they picked up, cleaned and then roasted the beans excreted by wild Asian palm civets that entered the plantations, due to their strong sense of smell, to eat the ripest coffee cherries. The civets’ digestive systems is able to digest only the pulp but thanks to the action of enzymes and bacteria, reduces the bitter taste of excreted beans giving rise to a much sweeter and rich aroma coffee. The Dutch plantation owners were not left indifferent, becoming die-hard fans.
No longer than 20 years ago, Kopi Luwak was introduced in Europe and America, having gradually become more popular and expensive (it’s considered the most expensive coffee in the world!), leading to a greater demand of it. Since it has a limited production, approximately 500 kilograms per year, currently we are witnessing a complete industrialization of this coffee production, which has nothing to do with the original form and flavors.
The civets are small mammals, nocturnal, shy, solitary and arboreal, feeding mainly on berries and pulpy fruits. Captured in nature, they are placed in small cages on top of each other without any vegetation inside, being fed almost exclusively on coffee cherries. Their job is nothing more than eat and defecate several times a day! This cruel method of coffee production leads to the animals becoming gravely ill, with high levels of stress, fights among themselves, gnaw on their own legs, fury loss, malnutrition, passing blood out in their scats and often death.
If this is disgusting? Yes, it is! But if you feel like spending up to 90€ on a cup of Kopi Luwak, keep in mind that you’ll be contributing to a cottage industry of animal abuse that serves no purpose. In terms of taste, it’s nothing special by the standards of modern coffee, as the civets in captivity do not select the ripest coffee cherries, eating only what is given to them to satisfy their hunger, even when it’s not the harvest season. At the same time, around 70% of coffee sold as Kopi Luwak is not 100% pure and sometimes it does not contain anything of the genuine coffee.
If you are a coffee lover, choose coffee produced by people who care about the product confection ethically, without exploring any kind of being. Do your part by boycotting Kopi Luwak and spreading awareness. The civets are thankful!