Kopi Luwak: Is its Great Taste & Cache Worth the Cruelty Involved in its Making?

Posted by Kevin on 5/15/2014 to General

Kopi Luwak has been the hottest thing in the coffee world for years. It is so hot that even Oprah featured it on her own show, and you know you’ve hit the big time when the Big O gives you a mention.


However, kopi luwak, otherwise known as civet coffee, is not as quaint and cutesy as it once was. Originally harvested from the feces of wild roaming civet cats, a type of weasel, in the jungles of Indonesia, kopi (Indonesian for coffee) luwak (a type of an Indonesia civet cat) is now produced on farms that have rows of cages containing civet cats. This is the only way for the region to keep up with the global demand for the special coffee since there is no kopi luwak without the luwak.


The luwak is the key to this coffee. Proponents of kopi luwak say that when the civet cats eat coffee berries, the digestive process breaks down the beans and ferments them, which results in a better tasting coffee once the beans have been plucked from the feces, roasted and brewed. The other benefit to using civet cats in the coffee making process is that wild luwaks only eat the finest and most ready coffee beans.  


However, the luwaks of today are having a tough time. A 2013 BBC investigation found that the civets used in intensive kopi luwak farming in Sumatra are treated cruelly. Additionally, coffee lovers are saying that farmed kopi luwak is of a lesser quality since the animals are fed all sorts of coffee beans, not just those of the finest quality.


So, if you are still looking to get top-quality coffee into your mug you need to find for wild sourced kopi luwak, a difficult task indeed, or go for some fine single origin coffees.