Some of you may already have heard about it. Kopi Luwak is considered to be the best coffee in the world. A cup in a London restaurant may cost up to 350 EUR! Is it really worth it? Discover the truth behind, how Kopi Luwak is made.
Have you also noticed that products aimed at the snobbish clients are usually ethically ambiguous? They often don’t compete in terms of quality, but try to impress with “extraordinary” and “unique” methods of production. It’s expected to attract jaded rich people, who want to stand out at all costs. Kopi Luwak isn’t an exception.
HOW KOPI LUWAK IS MADE?
Kopi Luwak is produced in a slightly disgusting way. It is made of coffee beans carefully picked from Asian palm civet’s poo. This lovely animal (also called luwak) have been considered as a pest in coffee plantations for years. Why? Luwaks were sitting on coffea bushes, always picking and eating the best coffee cherries. “Discovery” of how kopi luwak is made goes back to the XVIII century, when coffee plantations in Java and Sumatra were owned by the Dutch. They forbid locals from picking coffee beans from trees for their own use. Therefore, the native farmers began to prepare a drink from purified cherries, expelled by civets. They discovered quickly that digestive enzymes in the civet’s gastrointestinal tract, make coffee loose this characteristic sour – bitter taste, gaining a mild and delicate flavor in return. This coffee began to be very popular among the richest of the world, mainly due to how Kopi Luwak is made, in an “extremely original” way. Limited world supply (approx. 300-400 kilos annually) contributed to the staggering prices up to $ 3,000 per kilo!
KOPI LUWAK – THE CRUEL TRUTH
Such a great business couldn’t go undetected. Those natives with better entrepreneurial skills, took this opportunity and began to catch civet. So how Kopi Luwak is made in reality? Tens of thousands poor civets were closed in tiny cages. They are force-fed with coffee cherries only (normally it’s only a small part of their diet), in quantities which are equivalent to 100 cups of coffee per day if consumed by humans. Can you imagine it? Luwaks are constantly high on caffeine, which makes them crazy – they bite the bars, run in circles, scratch out their fur… In the end, animals die quickly. It is terrifying, what people can do just for snobbery. This original unique flavor is gone anyway – civets are fed with ordinary coffee cherries, they no longer have the chance to pick the best ones straight from the tree.
FACE TO FACE WITH LUWAK
Probably you are wondering now where we took pictures of these lovely civets then. On our way back from Tanah Lot temple in Bali, we got lost in one of the side streets. Tired, we decided to stop for a coffee in a nearby spot. Imagine our surprise when on one of the beams we noticed… luwak (and basically lady luwak) with baby luwak! How did they you get there? The owner rescued this civet, when he saw the conditions of the “plantation” where she was held… It turned out that a small surprise awaited him – she was pregnant! From that moment they became inseparable – in the night she preyed freely outside, while during the day she rested with her toddler under the ceiling beam. How couldn’t we drink coffee here? Baby luwak came to our table in the end and decided to sleep on it… But as soon as he smelled coffee from our cups, he run towards them like a shot! Apparently, it must have been a good quality coffee, since even civet wanted to try it 🙂 Such a lovely experience!
HOW CAN YOU FIGHT AGAINST THIS?
Just don’t drink and don’t buy Kopi Luwak, if you don’t know its origin for sure. Even the coffee labeled as “from wild civet” usually is fake, due to the lack of any control in this region of the world how actually Kopi Luwak is made. You should also not go to touristy “plantations” in Bali, where you see luwaks in cages – they are 100% caffeine high. If you are still not discouraged to try this coffee, just read this opinion about the Kopi Luwak taste issued by the Special Coffee Association of America: “general consensus within the industry … it just tastes bad (…) it was apparent that Luwak coffee sold for the story, not superior quality. ” Also in “blind tests” this coffee wasn’t indicated as the best one! Better try uncontroversial, cheaper (still expensive though!) and better Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee! Or just go for a sustainable coffee tour in Colombia instead.
Our other Indonesian adventures you can find here.