Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is one of the most exclusive and expensive coffees in the world. It is made from coffee beans eaten and excreted by civet cats, a cat-like animal that lives mainly in Asia. Despite being produced for centuries, kopi luwak has become increasingly popular among coffee aficionados in recent years. However, it has both admirers and critics.
We also regularly get the question: "So you do exclusive coffees, then you certainly also have Kopi Luwak?" No, we don't have that.
Although kopi luwak is known for its rich taste, there are some controversies surrounding the production of this coffee. There have been reports of cruelty to civets, which are often captured and kept in small cages to facilitate large-scale coffee production. This has led to calls to boycott the production of kopi luwak and to look for ethically sourced coffee.
So how fair and sustainable is Kopi Luwak really?
In this blog post we will discuss all aspects of kopi luwak, from the production to the taste & price and ethics.
How is Kopi Luwak processed?
It is now well known that kopi luwak is eaten by a kind of feline and then excreted. But how exactly does this processing process work?
Originally, production of kopi luwak begins when civets eat coffee berries in the wild. In Indonesia, where Kopi Luwak comes from, different types of coffee beans grow. The civets therefore choose the coffee cherries that look the most attractive. The most ripe.
The coffee cherries are then digested by the animal, breaking down the flesh of the berries, while the beans remain undigested.
After the civet has pooped out the beans, they are collected and washed and dried on drying beds. The green Luwak beans are then sorted and packed for export.
A small part of the Kopi Luwak coffee beans is roasted in the country itself and processed into coffee.
Read also: Coffee processing methods
What is the price of Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and can cost hundreds of dollars per kilo. But why is Kopi Luwak coffee so expensive? The high price of this coffee is largely due to the labour-intensive production process and the limited availability of the beans.
Since civets live in the wild, it is not possible to produce kopi luwak on a large scale. This ensures that the availability of the beans is limited, driving up the price.
In addition, there are other factors that contribute to the high price of kopi luwak. For example, the beans are collected by hand, which is time-consuming and increases costs. Although the high price of kopi luwak makes it prohibitively expensive for most people, there is still a growing demand for this exclusive coffee.
Coffee lovers around the world are willing to pay a lot to experience the unique taste and story behind the coffee. However, the high price of kopi luwak has also sparked some controversy and criticism, with some people arguing that the price is unjustified and that the beans are produced in an unethical manner.
I myself have drunk Kopi Luwak before, but luckily never paid for this. A good friend of mine, Justin Tieleman, is one of the pioneers in ethically responsible Kopi Luwak with his company Wild Gayo Luwak .
Fortunately, he regularly drops off a sample ;-).
What's the problem with civet coffee?
Trailer Uncommon Grounds: The real story of the world's most exclusive coffee.
Due to the high demand for the luxury product, Kopi Luwak, and the limited availability, because the wild cat excrement has to be found in nature, the price is extremely high as discussed above.
This ever-increasing price and great interest have also led to massive production of Kopi Luwak from NOT feral civet cats.
For the business of this luxury product, civet cats are caught and caged and fed coffee cherries. This of course makes it a lot easier to produce these coffee beans on a large scale. But it's not ethical at all.
A 2013 BBC investigation found that coffee produced under inhumane conditions and sold as wild civet coffee in Europe actually came from abused civets.
Coffee trader Toni Wild also warned in the Guardian that the production of kopi luwak is becoming increasingly industrialized, leading to abuse and counterfeiting.
There is no certification process that can 100% prove that coffee sold as 'wild' actually comes from the wild. Alex Morgan of the Rainforest Alliance reports that it is too difficult to determine whether 100% of the beans come from the wild, making it too risky to certify Kopi Luwak.
He therefore advises avoiding the coffee in general, as it is very likely that it comes from caged production.
Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is an exclusive and expensive type of coffee made from coffee beans eaten and excreted by civet cats. It is produced by collecting the beans after separation, washing them and drying them on drying beds before roasting or exporting.
Kopi luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world due to the labour-intensive production process and the scarcity combined with the ever-increasing demand.
There is quite a bit of criticism and controversy surrounding kopi luwak, due to animal welfare. There have been reports of mistreatment against civets who are kept captive in small cages to enable large-scale coffee production.
Would you drink it?
Related blog post: What is the rarest coffee in the world?