What is Kopi Luwak

3:09 PM officenekomedia 0 Comments

Ever heard about that coffee where cats or civets from Indonesia would eat coffee berries and defecate the beans, and have them picked up, collected, and processed by farmers and coffee producers?
If not, it’s called Kopi Luwak, also known as the most expensive coffee in the world.
Kopi luwak , or civet coffee, refers to the seeds of coffee berries once they have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet . The name is also used for marketing brewed coffee made from the beans.
Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. Selection occurs if the civets choose to eat coffee berries containing better beans. Digestive mechanisms may improve the flavor profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet eats the berries for the beans' fleshy pulp, then in the digestive tract, fermentation occurs. The civet's proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids.Passing through a civet's intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.
The traditional method of collecting feces from wild civets has given way to intensive farming methods in which civets in battery cage systems are force fed the coffee beans. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets due to "horrific conditions" including isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate.A 2013 BBC investigation of intensive civet farming in Sumatra found conditions of animal cruelty.Intensive farming is also criticised by traditional farmers because the civets do not select what they eat, so the beans are of poor quality compared to beans collected from the wild. According to an officer from the TRAFFIC conservation programme, the trade in civets to make kopi luwak may constitute a significant threat to wild civet populations.
Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called the most expensive coffee in the world with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogram. The price paid to collectors in the Philippines is closer to US$20 per kilogram. The price of farmed (considered low-grade by connoisseurs) kopi luwak in large Indonesian supermarkets is from US$100 per kilogram (five times the price of a high quality local arabica coffee). Genuine kopi luwak from wild civets is difficult to purchase in Indonesia and proving it is not fake is very difficult - there is little enforcement regarding use of the name "kopi luwak", and there's even a local cheap coffee brand named "Luwak", which costs under US$3 per kilogram but is occasionally sold online under the guise of real kopi luwak.
An investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia found fraud to be rife in the kopi luwak industry, with producers willing to label coffee from caged civets with a "wild sourced" or similar label. A BBC investigation revealed similar findings.
Kopi luwak is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago. It is also widely gathered in the forest or produced in the farms in the islands of the Philippines (where the product is called kape motit in the Cordillera region, kape alamid in Tagalog areas, and kape melô or kape musang in Mindanao island), and in East Timor . Weasel coffee is a loose English translation of its Vietnamese name cà phê Chồn, where popular, chemically simulated versions are also produced.


Myths regarding a better brew with cat poop coffee
Many coffee brewers and processors believe that having cats create Kopi Luwak results in a better coffee product. They believe that since the cats choose to eat the coffee berries, the cats must be choosing the best coffee berry possible. After the cat eats the coffee berries and then poop them out, their digestive mechanism is then believed to improve the taste and flavor profile of the coffee.

Where is the Cat Poop Coffee Produced?

Kopi Luwak is mainly produced in Indonesia. The Indonesian island of Sumatra is the world’s largest regional producer of the coffee. There are also a few of these coffee farms in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Coffee that comes from cat poop can’t taste good, right?
Many people have mixed opinions regarding the taste of Kopi Luwak. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, this coffee just tastes like normal coffee beans.  However, most coffee drinkers are able to distinguish a distinct taste. The coffee has low acidity and little flavor, but it is very smooth.
Another thing about the taste of this coffee is that no two cups will taste exactly the same. Since the coffee beans go through a different cat’s digestive system, the tastes will vary. Since every cat/civet is different, it’s overall diet and even personal health is also different. These factors all can change the end taste of the defecated coffee beans.

Many people believe that this coffee is only sold and drank for it’s unique story (cat eating and pooping the beans), not the overall taste and superior quality. Essentially, it’s just known as novelty coffee that people like to buy and drink because it’s so unique.

In popular culture

  • In 1995, an Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, Georgia, for "Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak (aka, the palm civet), a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia."
  • Kopi Luwak is also mentioned in The Bucket List (2008) as Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) reveals with great amusement of how the Kopi Luwak — enjoyed by Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) — was produced; eaten and defecated by a jungle cat. Cole reacted in surprise "You're shitting me!" and Carter replied in jest "No, the cats beat me to it!".
  • Kopi Luwak coffee makes an appearance in History Channel's reality TV series, Pawn Stars (18 July 2013), with several characters refusing to drink it after learning how it is made.
  • In Franklin and Bash, Season 3 Episode 9, "Shoot to Thrill", associate lawyer/germaphobe Pinder and his law partner Stanton Infeld each drink Kopi Luwak. After Pinder learns of the coffee's origin he begins to vomit due to his extreme germaphobia.


Because of the rarity of this coffee, the price is quite outrageous. If you can find a vendor, the current cost for a pound of Kopi Luwak is around $300 or more. Some more adventurous coffee houses are selling it by the cup, but you won't likely find it at your local coffee shop just yet. The coffee isn't so spectacular that it's truly worth that amount of money. You are paying for the experience of enjoying such an unusual and rare delicacy.


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