Kopi Luwak a.k.a Cat-Poop Coffee. What Is It?

cat poop coffee looks like any other coffee beans

Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee) is one of the most expensive coffees. 

First: Please be aware that there is a significant presence of counterfeit products on the market. Regrettably, this problem is also causing harm to many palm civets.

Surely everyone has heard that there’s a cat somewhere that eats coffee cherries, and as a result of a natural process, it becomes one of the world’s most expensive coffees. I delved into this story to clarify what it’s all about.

Kopi Luwak Coffee: Thanks, Civet Cat

But let’s start from the beginning: Civet cat coffee, officially known as Kopi Luwak, is about an indigenous animal in the Indonesian archipelago. “Kopi” means coffee in Indonesian, and “Luwak” is the name of the common palm civet.

As its name suggests, this little creature is one of the few animals that eat coffee cherries containing caffeine. So, the small palm civet consumes the coffee beans while they’re still in their raw, reddish state. 

However, it can only digest the soft outer layer of the bean. The inner beans remain untouched. Thus, the raw beans undergo a fermentation process in the animal’s digestive system, which is expelled without harm and nearly intact. 

This is how the term ‘cat poop coffee’ has become known.

But what makes this the world’s most exclusive coffee, and why is it so expensive?

How is cat-poop coffee made?

There’s nothing extraordinary about the procession. The coffee beans are removed from the civet cat’s feces, cleaned, and dried. Afterward, these coffee beans are offered for sale.

What’s more interesting is that this coffee’s price per kilogram can reach up to a thousand euros. The high price is usually supported by the limited production quantity (less than 200 kg per year) and the uniqueness of the production process.

Civet cat coffee is not flavored coffee

The civet’s excrement does not flavor the coffee. During digestion, it preserves its original form almost entirely. The coffee beans go through the usual process, often dry-processed to create the raw coffee intended for roasters.

Although its taste, as we mentioned, doesn’t necessarily correlate directly with the price of the coffee. It’s generally consumed black: without sugar or milk, to experience the original flavors. 

There are two kinds of people: 

  • those who consider it the finest coffee in the world 
  • and those who wouldn’t taste it at all (or simply don’t like it).

An issue with the quality of the beverage is that, encouraged by the success of the original Kopi Luwak, many traders attempt to exploit the name. Nowadays, it’s very challenging to distinguish the original product from the counterfeit.

The dark side of civet coffee

Often, they blend it with lower-quality coffee to increase the volume. Another popular method of deception is collecting coffee beans from the excrement of African palm civets instead of the original Malayan palm civet.

Look how cute it is…

a civet cat (also known as palm civet) consumes the coffee cherry to make kopi luwak

… if they were not kept in cages.

It cannot be left unsaid that many try to increase the producible quantity by keeping palm civets in captivity, where many innocent animals have already perished.

Deception has reached such an extent that a previous study claims that over 50% of the Kopi Luwak coffees on the market are counterfeit. If we still wish to taste it and avoid scammers, look for the label ‘wild-sourced’ on the bag, which indicates the civet’s origin. However, finding a coffee bag with a genuine certificate guarantees we are sipping original coffee is very rare.

Civet cat coffee is a vivid example that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Alongside the inflated prices driven by marketing, numerous counterfeits, and their sellers profit from the fame of genuine Kopi Luwak coffee— not to mention that the caffeine intake of those consuming it often costs the lives of innocent palm civets.

Kopi Luwak price: Where’s the reality?

On average, a single cup of Kopi Luwak coffee can be expensive, ranging from $35 to $100. Additionally, the cost per pound of this specialty coffee can range from $100 to $600.

However, with a heavy heart, I must reveal that it’s a well-crafted marketing gimmick. The quality of the coffee speaks volumes—mostly, it’s derived from the significantly lower quality, much less flavorful robusta coffee variety, which the small palm civet consumes in its raw form.

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