What is Kopi Luwak?
Short answer: Exotic coffee which is produced by digested coffee beans from a civet cat.
You may have heard of Kopi Luwak coffee, or even tried it. It’s quite possibly the most expensive coffee in the world, ranging between $35 – $100 per cup when ordered in a regular coffee shop. It’s the celebrity of coffees if that was actually a thing. If you haven’t tried it, I bet you’re now thinking ‘Wow, that must be some nice coffee’.
But Kopi Luwak isn’t priced so high because of its taste. The cost of the coffee is down to the slightly unorthodox way that it is produced. Kopi Luwak is produced from a coffee bean that has been eaten, digested and excreted by the civet cat, a shy, nocturnal, Indonesian mammal with a taste for coffee beans. When this coffee was first produced, farmers would spend time searching and collecting these little cat poops, wash, dry, pound, skin and roast them, before turning them into a wonderful cup of coffee.
The reason behind using the cat poop coffee beans over the other poop-free coffee beans is that during the digestion process, the bean goes through a type of fermentation process. The civet cat is unable to digest the bean itself, but digests the cherry and the pulp that contains it. On excretion, it is thought that the bean is given its famous and most sought after flavor produced from the mammals digestive tract and anal scent glands. Not the most appetizing of thoughts but this is a coffee that is prized for its unique and exquisite flavor.
Where can you buy it?
Kopi Luwak is available to purchase all over South East Asia, and no doubt many who travel there will have tried it. Famous for its quirky production story and the image of farmers quietly following the trail of cat poop through coffee plantations in order to produce the famous coffee, it’s hard not to be taken in and want to try it for yourself, so you can say you’ve tried the most expensive coffee in the world and it’s made out of feces – maybe even take a bag home.
Being somewhat of a novelty, Kopi Luwak has increased in demand. Now available to buy online and in commercial coffee shops, it has almost certainly become a popular coffee in its own right, partly due to its unique flavor, most likely due to its unique production. Twenty years ago, Kopi Luwak was only known to those who had been to the much less traveled Indonesia, and to those who were perhaps coffee connoisseurs.
The hidden truth of civet coffee production
Unfortunately now, the quirky story of farmers following the cat poop trail is no longer true. In fact you will struggle to find anywhere that sells genuine Kopi Luwak coffee. And by genuine I mean wild. Nowadays, the civet cat spends its life not wandering the coffee plants in the dark of the night, innocently snacking on its favorite coffee treats, but in a small, cramped, wire cage, where it is fed coffee beans incessantly before having its excrement scooped out the cage at the end of the day, only to repeat the whole sad process again the next.
The civet cat is now part of the coffee production line, and that has to beg the question, why is it still so expensive? It’s certainly not paying for the upkeep of the animal. Originally, farmers would charge such a high price for the coffee because it was so rare. There was no guarantee they would find the civet cat poop from one day to the next, there was no guarantee there would be Kopi Luwak to sell. The age and the quality of the coffee were always questionable until after it had been produced, so for such a rare and wild product, the high price was understandable. But now there is always a guarantee the coffee will be produced, there is always a guarantee of quality, quantity, taste, and flavor. So what makes Kopi Luwak different from any other coffee bean?
Kopi Luwak truly is a very rich and flavorsome coffee, and maybe it will always be a must-try for many coffee lovers out there. But as long as this luxury coffee is produced industrially through these cruel plantations rather than naturally through the findings of this wild civets droppings, it’s no longer the curiosity it claims to be. It was the unique tale of production that made this coffee worth the expense, without that, what has it become? Kopi Luwak – the most overpriced coffee in the world? That’s sure to leave a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth!