Are you a bit squeamish? Fair warning.
We get a lot of questions about civet cat coffee, so we’re explaining the trend of sourcing beans that are harvested from animal feces. You’ve probably heard about this stuff – and about its price. So let’s delve into this somewhat strange specialty coffee trend.
Civet cat coffee, called kopi luwak, is the partially digested coffee beans expelled by the Indonesian civet cat. In the wild, civet cats tend to eat the ripest coffee cherries, meaning the beans that show up in their feces are the best of the crop. Their stomach juices act as a way to process and ferment the coffee, and the animals basically function as a living coffee pulper.
The thing is, the exclusivity of this coffee and its resulting super-high price point (sold for $35 per cup in some shops) has created an exploitive industry where hundreds of civet cats are kept in cages, fed low-quality coffee cherries, and for what? Kopi luwak has never rated as a specialty coffee, and is not widely respected among coffee professionals. There’s no significant scientific difference from coffee beans processed traditionally and those processed by an animal’s stomach. Black Ivory coffee is harvested from elephant poop and while there’s not an exploitive trend as there is around kopi luwak, we still have to ask – but WHY?!
The way we see it, there’s no reason to bring animals into the coffee process. It doesn’t improve the taste, there’s the potential to exploit and harm animals, and it artificially drives up the price without a corresponding increase in quality. It just doesn’t make sense. You can spend $35 on a cup of poop coffee, or you can spend the same amount on a whole bag of meticulously cultivated geisha beans. We promise, it’ll taste better.