The Plight of the Civets – The Practice of Kopi Luwak Production

It was with much anticipation that I finally took a sip of the most expensive coffee in the world, kopi luwak, while in Bali and I was disappointed to say the least. It was not exceptional. As a matter of fact, it was bland. How could something so expensive taste so simple?

I am not a coffee connoisseur, as a matter of fact I don’t drink coffee that much, thanks to my sensitive stomach and constant bouts of hyperacidity. But I do love the smell of coffee, it is a treat which I look forward to every morning so I thank all the coffee-drinkers of the world for the wonderful aroma of coffee.

Before we partook of the kopi luwak, we went through a garden of coffee beans while the tour guide of the small plantation showed us the many variety of teas and coffee beans, as well as the luwak sleeping in their cages (it was daytime and luwaks are nocturnal creatures). The luwak is a palm chivet or small cat-like creature which eats the coffee beans and poops it. This process makes the coffee beans more flavorful or so they say, although I tend to disagree with this.

Kopi Luwak has easily spread from Asia to Europe and has actually gained quite a following with one outlet in London selling the coffee at £70 per cup, a steep price to pay but money which a lot of people are willing to part with for a taste of the renowned coffee.

The experience did not really leave a lasting impression on me and I only remembered about it after reading an article about the grim reality of how the world’s most expensive coffee is produced. I am not an environmental activist, far from it but I believe that everybody should be aware of this horrendous coffee-making practice.

One of the varities of Kopi Luwak sold today

How kopi luwak is produced

Civets are taken from the wild and are often kept in cramped cages and their offspring taken away from them early. They are almost completely fed coffee berries that they later excrete. The coffee beans are produced by the enzymes in the luwak’s stomach acid. After they are excreted, the beans are washed and roasted to create a kind of coffee which is known the world over because of its caramel-like flavor.

Nowadays, it is impossible to find genuine wild kopi luwak. Today’s kopi luwak comes from caged palm civets which are kept in the most horrendous conditions and this is why it is time for everyone who enjoy this delicacy to cut the crap and stop supporting the industry. If there are no buyers, the industry will shrivel and will cease to operate as it is today. Suffice it to say that the conditions under which this exquisite coffee is produced leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Now I know why the kopi luwak wasn’t such a pleasure to my palate.

The palm civet is kept in a small cage and force-fed coffee berries


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