Posted in Kafevend Blog

Truth is stranger than fiction, as the saying goes, and no more so than in the case of one of the world's most expensive coffees, namely kopi luwak. It is mainly produced on the Indonesian islands of Bali, Java, Sulawesi and Sumatra and also in the Philippines. Key to the process is the luwak or Asian palm civet, which is a bit like a raccoon.

Fruits and berries, including coffee berries, form a major part of the diet of these omnivores. The civets are after the fleshy pulp of the berry, not the coffee bean itself which is excreted out and later collected to make kopi luwak. Kopi is the Indonesian word for coffee, so kopi luwak is simply civet coffee. Producers claim the coffee to be improved due to selection and digestion. Thus it can be argued that the civets choose better berries to eat containing higher quality beans and then that the bean is further improved by the fermentation that occurs in the digestive tract.

Opinion regarding the taste varies widely. Some think that it's just a poor tasting gimmick while others are convinced of its superiority and point out its smoother, less acidic appeal. It's important to remember that kopi luwak refers to the processing of the bean through the civet and doesn't denote the type of bean; the civets eat all sorts depending on availability, which is bound to lead to a variety of flavours.

The growing popularity of kopi luwak in recent times has inevitably lead to instances of intensive farming. Captive civets are confined to cages and force fed coffee berries and little else leading to stress and poor health. If you are careful to avoid buying eggs from battery hens and prefer to buy organic meat, then you would be well advised to check out the source of a cup of kopi luwak before trying it or paying the exorbitant price tag.

by Kafevend

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