Kopi Luwak, also known as Civet coffee, is one of the most exclusive coffees in the world. It is collected after passing through the digestive system of a mammal known as a civet. Only found on the islands of Indonesia, this coffee is estimated to produce only 500 kilos annually. Due to its scarcity, Civet coffee is highly desired and expensive.
How It Is Produced
As per National Geographic, enzymes in the mammal’s digestive system change the proteins in coffee beans; this eliminates part of the natural acidity of the grain, resulting in a much smoother drink. Civets are known to choose the best grains from the harvest, ensuring a better final product. Mammals eat almost 25 coffee beans every day, making production delayed. Each year, only 500 bags of this product are produced.
The Controversy Surrounding Civet Coffee
Animal organizations have criticized Civet coffee production due to the captivity of civets. Initially, the popularization of this grain meant taking particular care of wild civets. However, communities began keeping these animals in unsanitary and mistreated captivity conditions. Civets are affected by being in captivity as they are generally nocturnal and solitary animals. In captivity, they are locked up in the proximity of other animals and this generates stress. Obtaining their diet solely of coffee beans causes intestinal bleeding, and often death.
Is Civet Coffee Really Better?
Tony Wild, who imported the first kilo of this coffee to the UK, wrote an article in The Guardian pointing out that concern regarding sourcing coffee produced by wild civets is not just about an animal cause, but it is also about quality. Wildlife obtained from animals in captivity has lower quality as the selection of the best grain is not given. Articles published by the Specialty Coffee Association of America have revealed that passing coffee beans through the digestive tract of civets modify grain proteins. This modification results in smoother coffee, but the coffee is believed to have fewer benefits for the person who consumes it.