There are plenty of strange trends in the world of coffee, but one of the strangest is drinking coffee that has been digested and excreted by civet cats. Yep, you read that right!
Although it may sound unconventional and somewhat disgusting, I’ve had the pleasure of trying authentic Kopi Luwak while living in Bali.
I was skeptical at first, but after my first sip, I could see - and taste! - what all the fuss surrounding one of the most expensive coffees in the world is about.
What Is Kopi Luwak? (Find Out How It's Made!)
In the Bahasa Indonesian language, kopi literally translates to coffee, while luwak is the Indonesian word for the country’s civet population.
Many people think that this phrase describes a type of coffee bean, but it actually refers to the unique production method.
While a wide variety of different beans can be used to make Kopi Luwak, the method for Kopi Luwak production is always the same.
That method includes feeding the best cherries to a civet, allowing the animal to digest each coffee cherry, and collecting the cherries after they’ve been passed.
Civets aren’t able to fully digest this type of food, so the cherries come out whole at the other end.
While inside the civet, the cherries are essentially fermented by the animal’s digestive system, and this is what gives Kopi Luwak its unique flavor.
The stomach enzymes work to strip away the excess foliage and acids, creating a clean, smooth, flavorful final product that’s low in acidity.
The last step in the production of Kopi Luwak is to collect, clean, dry, and roast the beans.
The cleaning process is thorough, and the outer layer of the cherry is removed, so you don't have to worry about civet feces getting into your cup of joe!
Why Is Kopi Luwak So Expensive?
Aside from the uniquely amazing Kopi Luwak taste, there are a few reasons for the high price tag of this expensive coffee.
First of all, it’s extremely labor-intensive to produce Kopi Luwak.
Whether your Kopi Luwak comes from one of the many coffee plantations in Indonesia or is collected from wild civets by native farmers, there’s nothing easy about sifting through Indonesian coffee poop.
Another reason for this being the world's most expensive coffee is that it is an exotic novelty.
There's nothing more exotic than "poop coffee."
While it may seem odd, people are willing to pay top dollar for the status that this specialty coffee brings, especially tourists traveling within Indonesia.
Lastly, Kopi Luwak coffee beans are some of the best-tasting beans in the world, so it's no wonder they're very expensive.
As the beans pass through the gastric juices of the civet's digestive system, the fermentation process helps to promote a clean, rich, smooth flavor, contributing to the high price tag.
Why Do People Drink This Sh*t Coffee?
There are a few reasons why someone would forego regular coffee beans for cat poop coffee that has been excreted by wild civets.
- Coffees grown using the traditional method don’t compare in terms of taste to civet coffee when it comes to delivering a flavorful earthy cup. In other words, civet coffee tastes better!
- The partially digested coffee beans are much smoother and lower in acidity than regular Arabica coffee. The civet's digestive enzymes are to thank for this, so it's a great choice if you prefer low-acid coffee for your morning routine.
- Asian palm civet coffee is regarded as a status symbol by coffee drinkers around the world. Sure, it may be the most expensive coffee, but that adds to its exclusivity and luxuriousness, which makes people want it even more!
- Kopi Luwak coffee beans don’t actually taste like poop! Instead, brewed coffee made from Kopi Luwak beans results in a smoother cup of coffee that tastes of earth, spice, and even caramel and chocolate.
The Kopi Luwak Coffee Controversy Explained
Unfortunately, Kopi Luwak production isn’t without its controversies. That’s the case with anything involving wild animals, and this specialty coffee is no exception.
In recent years, producing coffee gathered from civet droppings has raised ethical concerns regarding animal cruelty.
Many producers breed their civets or capture them as wild animals, and they spend the majority of their lives in cages, often with limited space and no padding or cushion.
To make things even worse, these producers typically force-feed caged civets, coffee cherries, and nothing else.
A civet's diet is meant to include foliage and roughage, and eating only coffee cherries is not healthy.
For that reason, many civets kept in captivity for the Kopi Luwak trade are grossly malnourished due to the lack of a varied diet.
If you do want to drink Luwak coffee, make sure to buy beans from a responsible source that uses ethical practices.
The Gayo Kopi company is a great choice; they only use beans collected from wild civet cats, and they are 100% committed to fighting animal cruelty.
Fun & Interesting Facts About The Asian Palm Civet!
Asian palm civets are small, nocturnal mammals that are typically found in heavily forested areas of Southeast Asia.
These animals are solitary creatures, and up until the Kopi Luwak coffee industry began, they were seen as pests by the farmers of Indonesia.
Since coffee came to the Indonesian islands in the 1600s, palm civets have loved the taste of ripe coffee cherries.
They would sneak into plantations to snack on the cherries, and it wasn’t until local people started exploring the forests that they realized the civets’ worth.
Plantation workers came across the intact beans found within the droppings. After collecting, cleaning, and roasting the beans, they quickly admired the Kopi Luwak clean taste and bold flavor.
And so, the concept of Kopi Luwak was born.
Here are a few more fun and interesting facts about the Asian civet:
How Do I Prepare Kopi Luwak?
You can use any type of coffee machine to make this special coffee. Most people choose to prepare Kopi Luwak with a pour-over or manual drip brewer - here’s how to do it:
- Prepare your hot water by boiling it to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If your Luwak beans are not preground, grind them to a medium-fine consistency.
- Place your paper filter into the basket, and add grounds to the filter. Do not pack the grounds, but gently shake the basket to settle the grounds.
- After the water has boiled, allow it to stand for 1 minute. Slowly pour the water over the grounds, using a circular motion.
- Once you’re happy with the amount of coffee brewed, remove and discard the filter and grounds. Sip and enjoy!
Kopi Luwak Commonly Asked Questions
How much does Kopi Luwak coffee cost compared to regular coffee?
Compared to standard coffee beans, high-quality Kopi Luwak is way more expensive. Retail prices can start anywhere from $50 per pound for farmed coffee beans and go up to $600 per pound for beans collected from wild luwaks. Some people may pay as much as $100 for a single cup of wild-caught Kopi Luwak coffee.
Is Kopi Luwak safe to drink?
Drinking Kopi Luwak specialty coffee is perfectly safe and sanitary; the producers remove the outer layer of the coffee bean altogether, and the cleaning process is extremely thorough. The roasting process heats the beans to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and according to Food Research International, this eliminates any risk of bacteria.
What’s the caffeine content of Kopi Luwak?
The caffeine in Kopi Luwak is actually lower than the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee. According to agricultural and food chemistry studies, caffeine in regular medium roast beans is about 0.60%, while the content in Luwak coffee is about 0.50%.
Are there other types of “animal poop” coffee?
Yes, there are other types of “animal poop” coffee around the world. The trend has taken off in recent years, and you can now find Coatis coffee in Peru, Jacu Bird coffee in Brazil, and Bat coffee throughout Asia.
Final Words – Would You Try This Coffee?
I can understand why someone would be hesitant to try a coffee that's passed through an animal's digestive tract.
After seeing the results from a web search of "What is Kopi Luwak?" I don't necessarily blame them!
So, take it from someone who has personally tried Kopi Luwak.
I've sipped on a lot of quality coffee over the years, and I can honestly say that this is some of the BEST coffee in the world in terms of unique taste, body, acidity, and aroma.
If you take the plunge into the world of Luwak coffee, just make sure to purchase your beans from a responsible, ethical source.