The sad truth about Kopi Luwak coffee

Double standards

I’m a dog and I find poop fascinating. On a walk, one quick sniff at a pile of poo and I know what type of animal walked this way and how long ago. I know some dogs are so enthusiastic about poop that they like to eat it. I don’t. A nibble at the edge of a particularly appealing cowpat doesn’t count as eating it. And what dog could resist a quick taste test, when happening upon a heap of horse dung that is still steaming?

If they see me nibbling at some poo, my bipeds always say, “Clowie, leave it!” I thought they were a bit strange to dislike poo, until I saw the reaction of other humans when their dogs are tasting poop. I decided that all humans are afflicted with a phobia of poop, their responses range from mild fear to panic when they see some.

Imagine my surprise when I was told that some bipeds drink coffee that is made from beans recovered from poop! I thought they were teasing me, but it’s true and people pay a lot of money for this coffee. This is a perfect example of the double standards of humans – tell the dog off for showing too much interest in poop at the park and then go and drink poop coffee! You couldn’t make it up!

Kopi Luwak Coffee

The palm civet is a shy, nocturnal creature about the same size as a domestic cat. It has sharp claws, similar to a cat, and it climbs trees easily. It eats a variety of fruit and small mammals.

Asian palm civet, or civet cat Attribution: By Rbalmonia (Photo shoot Previously published: Kopi Luwak Menu) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Asian palm civet, or civet cat
Attribution: By Rbalmonia (Photo shoot Previously published: Kopi Luwak Menu) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


One of the fruits it eats is ripe coffee cherries.

Two coffee beans from coffee berry

Two coffee beans from coffee berry
Attribution: By User:Ceazar77 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The stones, or coffee beans, are not digested. They can be seen in the excrement.

Civet faeces containing coffee beans - Attribution: By Vberger (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Civet faeces containing coffee beans
Attribution: By Vberger (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Someone in Indonesia decided to extract the coffee beans from the poop. I can find no information on who thought this would be a good idea, nor can I find how this person persuaded other people to drink the resulting coffee!

Kopi luwak beans from faeces Attribution: By Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kopi luwak beans from faeces
Attribution: By Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Kopi luwak coffee was rare and the quality varied. I may think it strange that humans would want to drink it, but no animals were harmed.

The sad part

A little over twenty years ago, kopi luwak coffee was introduced to Europe and America. It has gradually become more popular and more expensive. It has been featured on popular shows, such as Oprah, and in the film “The Bucket List”, leading to more demand for it. Kopi luwak could only be produced in small quantities, so things changed.

Civet cat in a cage Attribution: By surtr (Flickr: luwak (civet cat)) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa

Civet cat in a cage – Attribution: By surtr (Flickr: luwak (civet cat)) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Civets are captured and kept in tiny cages, fed on a diet of coffee berries and little else. This picture is heartbreaking, but one of the least distressing I could find. These animals suffer and die because of their restricted diet. They are stressed because they are in such a confined space. Some have bad injuries. I could say more about their plight, but the cruelty is obvious.

Kopi Luwak coffee Attribution: By ohallmann (Kopi Luwak, Kaffee auf flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kopi Luwak coffee
Attribution: By ohallmann (Kopi Luwak, Kaffee auf flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Kopi luwak coffee is also known as civet coffee, weasel coffee, cat poo coffee, poop coffee, crap coffee and probably other variations.

Kopi luwak coffee that is labelled as authentic, with the claim it’s made from the poop of wild civets sells for even higher prices than other kopi luwak. We only have the word of the producer on this. There are no checks on their claims. People in the coffee world say that there is very little coffee made in the old way, by collecting excrement from wild animals, and the only way to know the origin of the coffee is to collect it yourself.

At least one plantation that sells ‘authentic’ coffee has civets in cages on its premises. They say the civets are there for research purposes and their poop is not used for the coffee they sell. True or not, I think they’re missing the point – they have wild animals in cages and are exploiting them.

What you can do

• If you drink or buy kopi luwak coffee, you can stop

• You can read the small print on that special blend you enjoy on a Sunday morning and if it contains kopi luwak you can choose a different blend

• You can help by informing other people

• You can sign this petition – http://www.thepetitionsite.com/950/570/866/stop-civet-cruelty/

• There is a Facebook page “Kopi Luwak: Cut the Crap” – https://www.facebook.com/kopiluwakcutthecrap
This campaign is being run by Tony Wild, who imported the first kilo of kopi luwak coffee to Britain and hates what is happening to animals to produce this coffee now.

• There is a document (pdf) that is being maintained as part of his campaign. It lists the companies who make a profit from kopi luwak coffee – there are a number of household names on there – https://www.dropbox.com/sh/66turi0r7tlqnqg/KfTR9BGlz7/Kopi%20Luwak%20campaign.pdf

• You can inform the companies involved that you do not approve

Related articles

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/sep/13/civet-coffee-cut-the-crap

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/19/civet-coffee-abuse-campaigners

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24034029

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-pesce/kopi-luwak-poop-coffee_b_2260671.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_palm_civet

Click to access Kopi%20Luwak%20campaign.pdf

Cheer me up!

It makes me sad to see animals suffering. Give me some good news! Or share some poopy humour!

See you next Wednesday!