Ethical Coffee Luwak

Last modified Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Recently ousting Jamaican Blue Mountain as the world’s most expensive coffee, around 700kg of cat-poo (or more commonly Luwak) coffee are produced around the world each year, and can fetch as much as $770 a kg in London.

The coffee is made by picking out and roasting partially digested coffee beans from the feces of the South-East Asian palm civet or Luwak, that live around the coffee plantations.

Wave of high profile bad press, including the The Guardian, The Economist, and again (they're loving this) The Guardian have brought the ethical issues of Coffee Luwak to the attention of the world. But is the coffee really worth it? And where can you find ethically sourced Kopi Luwak?

Palm Civet facts

  • The Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), or Luwak is native to Africa and south east Asia
  • Luwaks inhabit tropical rain forest, eating fruit, and famously ripe coffee cherry
  • Throughout tropical south east Asia including - Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Civet poo is used to produce the very expensive Coffee Luwak

A brief history

Civet poo used to make coffee luwak

In a nutshell... or a pooped coffee bean... Dutch colonizers first introduced a Yemeni coffee beans into Indonesia in 1696. Coffee cultivation grew and spread throughout the archipelago. The Palm Civet soon took a liking to the juicy ripe coffee fruit. After initially trying to get rid of the “pests” from their coffee plantations, locals took the natural step and tried roasting the nutty poop (like you do), word spread, and the rest is history.

An more informative description of the whole Coffee Luwak process can be found here

So is Coffee Luwak that good?

In technical terms, during the digestive process the coffee cherry flesh is removed leaving the coffee bean inside an inner skin, called the pergamino or parchment. The parchment is permeable allowing acids in the luwak's stomach to soak the beans causing the destruction of some of the proteins in the coffee and altering their final taste. It is THIS, that leads purveyors of Coffee Luwak uphold the fine tastes (and justify the a high price). The cynic could be forgiven for believing that it is merely the novelty value of trying cat-crap coffee.

Ethical coffee luwak - a Luwak in his natural habitat

Whilst I am no coffee expert, a major reason for the original quality of Kopi Luwak was clearly the fact that you had these free range animals wandering care-free around the plantations, getting a well-balanced organic diet, and presumably selecting the tastiest coffees cherries.

As coffee blog Sprudge point out, about 80% Philippino Luwak is from caged civets. Furthermore, the high price has led to a huge amount of fake Coffee Luwak, or Coffee Luwak diluted with ordinary coffee.

Ultimately, a lack of market control has made the hunt for genuine free-range Luwak Coffee very difficult.

Genuine ethical Coffee Luwak

Unfortunately most Kopi Luwak comes from caged animals on Luwak farms. To help out the conscientious coffee lover, we have started a list of ethical Coffee Luwak suppliers. If you know any more, please share via a comment below and we will add them once we have checked them out.

  • Bali based Animal Coffee sell coffee collected from Luwaks allowed to trott freely around their plantations in Java and Sumatra.
  • Exotic coffee claim ethically kept Luwak.
  • Rafflesia Luwak, a Sumatra based coffee cooperative employ an all-female workforce and produce organic Kopi Luwak. They pay particular attention to preserving the surrounding ecosystem, especially the civet cat.
  • Doi Chaang Wild Thai Civet Coffee is made from the eliminated coffee beans of wild civets that freely roam through the natural habitat of Doi Chang Village. At no time are the civets caged and force fed coffee cherries by the farmers.

17 comments

  • Icarus Wednesday, 19 June 2013 07:00 posted by Icarus

    Hi Guys, how do you do? I hope you all the best for your bussiness.

    We could provide you The Rare Genuine Kopi Luwak Coffee from Wild Civets lived in Sumatra Island Forest, Indonesia with very competitive prices excl. shipping.

    For complete info see
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wayang45/505093269556017

    Our Kopi Luwak Coffees are Genuine because we found the suppliers from well-credited media in our country.We still in promotion time for this June that the prices still low. Order now and we would add you bonus Kopi Luwak Premium.
    Hoping for good news from importers :)

  • TCL Pinner Wednesday, 08 May 2013 20:05 posted by TCL Pinner

    Please everyone - if you have to buy a novelty coffee, buy the elephant dung crapuccino - it is far more ethical. The elephants are left crazing in the sun all day on sugar cane and fruit, and have a bath and massage every night... in fact, come to think of it, they have a better life than I do :D

  • TCL Pinner Wednesday, 30 January 2013 19:34 posted by TCL Pinner

    You see Thai elephant coffee - this is expensive $1000 kg

  • Tree frog Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:20 posted by Tree frog

    a new find. rare as a golden gibbon

  • Admin Wednesday, 07 November 2012 15:08 posted by Admin

    Thankyou Pacman - you are on it. It is great when our readers come back with interesting links - I researched far and wide for this article, and found very little.
    Appreciated

  • Pi Pacman Wednesday, 07 November 2012 14:48 posted by Pi Pacman

    Congrats, nice article. There are few people offering your civet turd latte this, but this one it genuine -
    http://doichaangcoffee.com/doi-chaang-wild-civet-coffee - mes thinks

  • Pi Pacman Wednesday, 07 November 2012 14:48 posted by Pi Pacman

    Congrats, nice article. There are few people offering your civet turd latte this, but this one it genuine -
    http://doichaangcoffee.com/doi-chaang-wild-civet-coffee - mes thinks

  • Admin Wednesday, 03 October 2012 20:58 posted by Admin

    @DTB What's that, the poop or the coffee ;D

  • David Banfield Wednesday, 03 October 2012 15:04 posted by David Banfield

    Never heard of it mate but I will bring you some back next time I am in Thailand

  • Tree frog Friday, 14 September 2012 11:08 posted by Tree frog

    But you are laughing ;)

  • Admin Friday, 14 September 2012 11:06 posted by Admin

    Please, that is just wrong.

  • Tree frog Monday, 10 September 2012 12:55 posted by Tree frog

    There's also an 'instant' version, but it involves administering laxatives.

  • Admin Monday, 10 September 2012 12:54 posted by Admin

    That's not even funny

  • Tree frog Monday, 10 September 2012 12:49 posted by Tree frog

    Feed them berries and milk and you get a crappuccino

  • Tony Jaa Sunday, 09 September 2012 22:47 posted by Tony Jaa

    ;)

  • Admin Sunday, 09 September 2012 22:45 posted by Admin

    Yes. To be honest, no less cruel than battery hens, or farmed ferrets for fur coats, but creating a list of ethical coffee Luwak producers, will help.

  • Tony Jaa Sunday, 09 September 2012 22:42 posted by Tony Jaa

    This is a problem in SE Asia. The Luwak copee goes to Japanese and Chinese

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