Cibet coffee. The world's most expensive coffee, is it worth it?


Acivet coffee is considered to be acoffee bean that has passed through the digestive tract of an animal called a civet - "luwak" in Indonesian. This tropical 'cat' is a naturally shy nocturnal creature. It loves its wild life in the forests, where it feeds on whatever comes under its nose. Insects, small animals and, above all ,civets like fruit.

Cibettes resemble cats in appearance, although the shape of their head is more like a weasel or ferret. The average weight of a civet is about 3 - 5 kg and it measures about 50 - 60 cm, except for the long tail.

As coffee thrives in Indonesia, wild civets would go to the coffee trees to pick the best ripe fruit. They chewed the coffee cherries, but the beans were indigestible to them. The excrement of the civets feeding on thecoffee cherries consisted mostly of coffee beans.

Enzymes in the civet's digestive system changed the chemical composition of the coffee beans in some way. There was actually a fermentation of the coffee. The excrement collected from the bulbets is cleaned and further processed as conventional coffee.


As I write this article, I can't think of a reason whyanyone would want to drink coffee that has been eaten and pooped on by an animal? And how is it possible thatthe most expensive coffee in the world comes from... poop? So what to expect from the taste of civet coffee: A smooth, mild but full-bodied flavour, with no pronounced acidity or bitterness, rather sweet and earthy. Some compare it to a smooth and better robusta.

Personally, I prefer the sweet and sour fruity taste of coffee. Fresh acidity and a pleasant coffee bitterness. Coffee fermentation is a fundamental principle inwet coffee processing. New methods such as anaerobic processing provide even more unique coffee flavour characteristics. These methods are controllable for best results and applicable to larger quantities of coffee. The sales potential of civet coffee is therefore in something other than taste.


The reason for the high price of civet coffee is its uniqueness. So itwas originally. A unique story about picky civets and the limited quantity of such coffee. Today's sale of civet coffee is mainly a deceptive ploy by traders who don't mind the inhumane treatment of animals. But there would be no supply if there were no demand.

Cibet coffee, or kopi luwak.


Wild civets and humans. How can they work together? The inhabitants of the areas where the civets are found have become their enemies as the civets eat the fruit. Civets have also been considered pests on coffee farms in Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands.

Thefirst coffee tree seedlings were brought toJava in1696 by Dutch colonists. The volcanic, nutritious soil seemed to be excellent for growing coffee. By the mid-17th century, European interest in coffee was growing. Pressure for higher coffee yields meant, among other things , thatcoffee was banned from being consumed by the local population. The excrement of civets, those not yet caught as pests, became a source of coffee for the natives.

The story of a furry animal that does the work of both coffee collection and processing for humans appealed to many coffee lovers. Of course, it must not be forgotten to mention that civets are choosy and onlypick the best quality coffee cherries. The result is astory about the world's best coffee, which is hard to find. Finding fresh "coffee poop" is simply time consuming and there is only a small amount of it.

The use of civet excrement saved the day. However, as it happens, a unique product has a unique price and that means the potential for a profitable business. But the civet is a wild creature and its cooperation in increased coffee production did not seem realistic. But we humans can cope, which in this case meant hunting civets for breeding. In reality,breeding most likely means capturing civets in a cage under terrible conditions.


National Geographic magazine published the results of an assessment of the living conditions of 50 wild civet civets "bred" in cages in Bali.(1) A research team of scientists from Oxford University assessed the size - the appearance - of these civets, the sanitary conditions of the cages, and the ability of the caged civets to behave like normal civets. The result? Not a single plantation raising civets met basic animal welfare requirements.

The civet cages were too small for the civets, and they were soaked with urine and droppings. Some civets were thin from aninadequate diet of essentially nothing but coffee cherries. Other civets suffered from lack of exercise and were obese. Scientists have also noted the effect of caffeine levels on civet behavior. One of the most unpleasant things the scientists encountered was the wire mesh floor. It caused the civets abrasions and constant pain due to their inability to sit, stand or lie anywhere but on this wire.

Mooving Animals activists (2) highlight the self-harm of captive civets. This unnatural survival in cages keeps animals under extreme and constant stress. Confined civets chew their own bodies - especially their tails, which depressed animals chew to the bone. These are the consequences of allowing humans to indulge in an expensive cup of coffee.


Czech sellers of "Kopi Luwak" - civet coffee offer it for about 600 CZK for 50g. Worldwide, the price ranges from 30 - 100$ (i.e. about 660 - 2200 CZK) per cup and 100 - 600$ per pound, i.e. about 2200 - 13200 CZK for about half a kilo of coffee .

The suppliers justify the high price by the aforementioned complexity of collection and the limited quantity of this animal product - it is estimated that 1000 pounds (about 450 Kg) of naturally collected civet coffee can be produced annually in this way. As a result of the 'industrialisation' of civet coffee, caged civets can produce an estimated 500 tonnes of coffee per year.(3)


Civet coffee is expensive because of its exoticism and luxury goods awareness. However, don't look for much uniqueness in the taste. On the contrary, with every purchase of civet coffee, you may be contributing to the wanton torture of these animals. There are no really workable measures against the factory farming of civets. It's not so easy to be sure that the coffee you order as naturally harvested from wild civets doesn't come from caged civets - which is more likely.

In addition to the demand for this coffee, civet farmers use these animals as a tourist attraction. Visiting a 'civet zoo' and buying their coffee seems like an interesting attraction. Cibettesdo not want to be in cages, or at best a small enclosure, just for our enjoyment. They are wild animals and also have a role to play in the wild and in the natural food chain.

Indonesia is a producer of great coffees and "normally" processed ones that you really enjoy. At the same time, you will know that you are not harming the animals (perhaps indirectly) and the growers of Fair Trade select Indonesian coffee will be paid adequately for their work.

Caged civet


Cibetans are not the only creatures whose excrement is partly made up of coffee beans. In Brazil it is the Jacu bird, in Thailand it is elephants and in India it is the Makak Rhesus monkey. Since none of these animals volunteer to mass produce coffee processed in this way, the only way to increase production is through capture and coercion. The uniqueness of the product makes its price high. Financially and ethically. But as long as there is a demand for coffee made from animal excrement in the world, these animals will be captured, fed coffee cherries and kept in captivity for their entire lives.

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