You’ve probably read about this coffee in a food magazine or heard stories about it. Videos of how its made are quite popular on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. That’s understandable because Luwak coffee is a rare commodity.
Kopi Luwak coffeeis also referrred to as cat poop coffee. When you hear this name, it probably raises your curiosity about this coffee. Well here are some facts to answer your questions about Kopi Luwak Coffee.
Kopi luwak coffee also known as civet cat coffee is one of the strangest and specialized coffees in the world with a different flavor. It’s collected from the dung of the Asian Palm Civet cat scientifically referrred to as paradoxurus hermaphroditus.
The unique civet cat with its tail like a monkey and face like a raccoon is one of the rare species in the world. That why kopi luwak is considered one of the best type of coffee by the specialty coffee association of America.
What’s the story behind this special coffee? And why do some people prefer it over other types of coffee? Let’s jump right in and examine the Kopi Luwak coffee.
What Makes the Kopi Luwak Coffee Different?
Kopi Luwak coffee or asian palm civet coffee is like every other type of coffee in that its sourced from the beans of Arabica Coffea plant. But what makes it different is its origin.
The kopi luwak coffee is peculiar to coffee farms in SouthEast Asia, in Indonesian islands of Sumatra Sulawesi, Java, and Bali. That is the first thing that separates the kopi luwak from the other types of coffee.
The next thing is that a unique Indonesian creature contributes to the production of Luwak coffee. That is the Asian Palm Civet, also known as the Luwak.
These animals, similar to cats roam around Bali – a province in Indonesia and other South American countries eating among other things wild coffee berries. When the cherries of the Coffea plants are ripe, the Luwak eat and then excrete them.
Coffee experts believe the Palm Civets contribute to the rich flavor of Kopi Luwak Coffee Beans. The enzymes in the digestive tract of the Luwak gradually digest the cherries removing the flesh, and fermenting them a bit.
I know, it’s kinda gross thinking that people would drink this coffee that’s passed through the digestive system of an animal but it happens. It’s not just a marketing gimmick to get you to buy Kopi Luwak Coffee.
The Palm Civet Cats that Make Kopi Luwak Coffee
The civet cats used to produce Luwak coffee are either in the wild or in farms. Unfortunately, the population of civet cats in South Eastern Asia forests is slowly decreasing. But the number of those in captivity continues to rise. That’s because many people have civet farms for coffee production.
These civet farms are a source of a lot of controversy because some of them are accused of animal cruelty. Keeping civets under horrific conditions, contributes to the high mortality rate of these cats in Indonesia and other asian countries where luwak coffee is produced.
However, inspite of these claims kopi Luwak coffee farms continue to increase in Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines. That’s probably because Kopi Luwak coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. However, the wild sourced Kopi Luwak coffee variety is more popular than that from animal farms simply because it doesn’t come from companies accused of animal cruelty.
How Civet Cats Make Kopi Luwak Coffee
You can only understand why Luwak coffee is expensive by understanding what it takes to produce it. It all starts in the stomach of civet cats. After they ingest coffee cherries and partially digested them, these cats excrete the cherries which are later gathered by workers.
The workers then handpick the partially digested cherries from the cat poop and proceed to turn them into one of the world’s most expensive coffees. They wash and roast them like the regular coffee beans we know before shipping them all over the world.
The History of Kopi Luwak Coffee
Our intelligence is something I’ve always admired as human beings because how could someone think about doing this.The history of the kopi luwak can be traced back to the 1700s when the Dutch explorers set up coffee plantations in Java and Sumatra.
Unfortunately, they did not allow the natives to harvest coffee for their needs. Everything they gathered was taken by the Dutch. However, some natives noticed that wild animals such as birds, monkeys, and elephants ate the cherries and then left coffee beans behind in their excretes. They then started picking the discarded beans, roasting them and brewing them to make their own coffee.
In the 1900s Kopi Luwak coffee made its way into the American scene. Tony Wild the author of a book called “Coffee: A Dark History” is credited for introducing this special coffee to the Western world.
Today Kopi Luwak coffee is becoming increasingly popular. It has been featured on a few American TV shows like “The Bucket List” and renowned “Oprah Winfrey show.” Stories about it are also regulary featured on news channels such as BBC.
The Taste of Kopi Luwak Coffee
The taste of Kopi Luwak coffee varies based on the type of coffee bean used to make it. The ability of the civet to select quality berries, its general diet, and health will also determine the flavor and composition of coffee you get from its excreted coffee berries.
Most of the flavor in civet coffee comes from the digestion process in the cuvets gastrointestinal tract. The fermentation process and the digestive juices in the civet’s gut releases proteins and flavors from the coffee beans that contribute to its smooth taste and aroma.
What Does It Cost To buy Kopi Luwak Coffee?
The uniqueness of Kopi Luwak coffee makes it a pricey product. That’s probably because it takes the efforts of a wild animal and a lot of specialised labor to make it. That’s quite different from picking berries from a tree and processing them.
Therefore, it costs between $ 35 and $ 100 to buy a cup of Luwak coffee. The price per pound is slightly higher. Coffee traders sell a pound of Kopi Luwak for between $100 and $ 600.
The Kopi Luwak coffee you get at coffee shops may differ according to the region it comes from, the processing of the coffee beans, and how they were roasted.
The type of coffee beans the civet cats eats will also determine the type of coffee you get from its faeces. Therefore, while most kopi luwak brands of coffee are made from Arabica beans, you may also find some Robusta variations of it on sale.
Why is the Kopi Luwak Coffee So Expensive ?
If you have read up until now, you know that the kopi luwak coffee is highly rated and a bit pricey compared to the other types of coffee out there. That’s why it’s on the bucket list of many coffee lovers. So, why is kopi Luwak coffee so special?
The first reason is flavor. Everyone who has taken a sip of a Kopi Luwak cup of joe can attest to its smooth, distinct flavor. And unlike other arabica coffees, Kopi Luwak lacks any hint of acidity or bitterness. It also contains less caffeine.
You would think Civet coffee is gross because it is produced from berries fermented in an animals intestines and harvested from its feces but that’s what makes this weasel coffee stand out. That’s because the Luwak only eats the best fruits from the Arabica coffee plant.
As humans, we are pretty picky when it comes to what we eat! Animals are much more selective than us; their noses are developed to pick bad fruit from good fruit. That’s why the Luwak only eat the best cherries that contribute to the making of unique Luwak coffee. Their care contributes to the distinctive sweet chocolate flavor of civet coffee that set’s it apart from other coffees like espresso and cold brew coffee.
Kopi Luwak beans also contains beneficial acids as a result of the breakdown and fermentation of coffee cherries during the enzymatic digestion process inside the civet cat.
One is malic acid which boost energy and is great for chronic fatigue syndrome. Luwak coffee also contains higher levels of citric acid than other coffees. And citric acid is excellent for alkalizing the body.
An additional advantage of the Kopi Luwak coffee is that the enzymes in the digestive tracts of the Luwak influence some changes in the coffee beans. This process is responsible for the smoothness of the coffee and its low caffeine content.
Kopi Luwak also requires less labor to process which is why there are many Civet coffee farms in Southern Asia countries. What happens is that when the coffee cherries are passing through the civet cat’s digestive tract, the lining of the stomach altogether removes the flesh from the cherries, leaving the coffee beans behind. When these beans are collected from the civet’s poop they are ready for drying and roasting.
The processing of kopi luwak cherries in the Civets stomach saves farmers the headache of removing the skin off the coffee beans. It is also beneficial because if any external parts of the coffee seeds remained they would encourage mould growth which can spoil their flavor.
So far, we have only examined the best parts of the kopi luwak coffee, but it will be a disservice to you if I don’t tell you that some people don’t recommend drinking it. What then is Problem with the Luwak Coffee?
The Negative Side of Kopi Luwak Coffee
The first problem with kopi luwak coffee is that it is tough to produce. That’s because it depends on the droppings of Civet cats which are not easy to find. There is a high demand for the coffee and only a small civet population to satisfy it through their dropping. Therefore, many coffee producers have resulted to imprisoning Civet cats to get enough droppings from which they can process Luwak coffee. The cruel treatment of these animals discourages some people from buying the coffee which affects its trade in different parts of the world.
Kopi Luwak coffee’s flavor profile is also not appealing to everyone. While some people think it tastes smooth and chocolatey others think it leaves a funny aftertaste in their mouths. Experts may blame this on the different methods of processing Kopi Luwak and it’s authenticity but generally it doesn’t appeal to everyone.
The fact that Civet coffee comes from civet poo gives it a bad image among some coffee drinkers. Some people can’t stand the idea of drinking something made from poop no matter how good it tastes.
The prices of Kopi Luwak coffee also discourage coffee drinkers from enjoying it. The fact that some Kopi Luwak producers are accused of neglecting the animal welfare of civets in certain regions in Asian countries also contributes to its lack of popularity in some countries.
Kopi Luwak coffee is poduced in few countries all over the world. That’s because you can only find the civet cats in South East Asian countries like Bali, and some countries in sub-saharan africa.
Bali is the only place that can produce the kopi luwak coffee naturally, and what they would produce would be minimal amounts if they depended on the civet cats in their forests. So it is hard to get large quantities of wild kopi luwak coffee there.
However, people seeing an opportunity of a great business in producing this kind of coffee devised ways of getting the kopi luwak coffee by capturing the civet cats from the forest and keeping them in a cage. Therefore, the numbers of wild civet cats in this region have decreased drastically due to civet farming.
The capture and captivity of the civet cats are the second problem associated with the kopi luwak coffee because they can’t reproduce the environment and nature of these animals.
Because the people who cage luwaks cannot reproduce their natural environment, they do not produce the best quality of coffee. The civet cats are nocturnal and would only roam at night where they are most active, but keeping them in cages means they are exposed to people and sunlight every time.
When civet farmers turn their farms into tourism attractions, it traumatizes the animals further intefering with the quality of beans collected from their dung. That can interfere with the quality of civet coffee produced. Which is why there is a crisis in the Kopi Luwak industry when it comes to the availability and quantities of Luwak coffee.
Some farmers also force-feed the civets’ cherries as well, which could cause malnutrition and indigestion because there are other things that these creatures eat. When the civet cats are force-fed, they have no choice but to eat all the cherries they are given, not having time to smell them and pick the best. Therefore, much of what they eat is unripe or bad cherries which can only make low quality coffee when collected from their poop.
When the kopi luwak coffee is produced in this way, in civet farms, the end product is always substandard and won’t be authentic. However, another problem concerning the authenticity of Luwak coffee is the sale of fake kopi luwak or chemically synthesized kopi luwak coffee
Kopi luwak coffee is a lucrative business and people love to make money; this has led several people to go about peddling coffee from other sources as real kopi luwak or civet coffee.
One of the fake coffee products marketed as Luwak coffee is the type produced from monkeys. The only difference these monkeys have from Civets is that they don’t digest coffee beans. They only chew the beans and spit them out. Another coffee similar to Kopi Luwak is one made from macaques in Taiwan who also chew and spit the bean out.
There is also the issue of bacteria. Since Luwak coffee is made from digested beans collected from the civets feaces, there are concerns about coli contamination. But some scientists say the digestive enzymes in the Civet’s stomach assits in eliminating harmful bacteria.
While the kopi luwak coffee was first produced naturally, most of the coffee peddled on the streets nowadays is made through animal abuse. You’ve probably seen documentaries on BBC where reporters posing as buyers of Luwak coffee expose farms where civets are kept in cruel conditions.
Unfortunately when coffee from these farms is exported to far off places such as Europe and China, people don’t talk about the cruel conditions under which it is produced. Researchers have also talked about the kopi luwak high acidic levels.
Some other people also believe that the notion of the kopi luwak coffee having a smooth taste and the excellent flavour is old. That was probably when coffee consumption wasn’t as high as this and when the civet cats ate the cherries without being compelled to do it.
There are also different ways to make coffee taste good these days, as people have found other ways to brew coffee. Brewing is also important if you want to get the best from your coffee. Therefore, if get the brew right, you might not need to go looking for any kopi luwak coffee.
However, if you want to taste what the kopi luwak coffee tastes like, you might want to research the retail aspect of it. Coffee luwak varieties range from medium to dark roast depending on the specifications of the producer.
There are numerous retail outfits, whose coffee differs based on authentication and production processes. Some retailers mix cheap coffee with authentic civet coffee to increase their profits. Therefore, it forces organizations such as food research international to perform authentication processes such as metabolomics to pick the real civet coffee.
But can you do that as a consumer? No. Your only course of action is to purchase civet coffee from distributers with a reputation of selling real civet coffee. You also need to look at reviews from critics and recommendations from consumers associated with authentic civet coffee brands.
A good place to get such information is Amazon, or private websites of authentic Civet coffee producers who market their own coffee. These coffee sellers often have reviews on their sites.
That’s a trick for me because when people get what is good, they want to talk about it the same as when it is terrible and average. Therefore, a company that sells quality would like to show testimonials and reviews from people to build its brand. Watch out for these testimonials and reviews, and you are on the right path to getting the best civet coffee on the market.
The bottom line is that Kopi Luwak coffee is a novelty. Buy it if you like specialised coffee with an interesting flavor. If you’ve only just learned about Luwak coffee, let us know what you think about it in the comments section. Would you love a taste of the Kopi luwak coffee, or you would stick to your regular coffee?