Have you ever imagined consuming something made out of cat’s poop? I know it sounds disgusting, but it turned out to be the ‘hit’ of the season. Strangely enough, it is extremely expensive.
Asian Palm Civet, or as they also call it ‘Luwak’ in Indonesia comes from the cat’s family. At first, Civets were considered as pests because they ate coffee, fruits, and even fowls, such as chicks and hens. Therefore, farmers used to hate them. Now, when they know their value, these pests became very famous.
This is not new – it may have been known since the Colonial era! In the early 18th century the Dutch prohibited local farmers to collect coffee for personal use but they still wanted to use coffee for making beverages. They found out that Civets consumed coffee cherries and excreted the undigested ones around the area. They collected, cleaned, roasted and ground them to produce their own coffee.
Civets eat the ripe and best quality coffee as a snack, and since their digestion is very simple, they only digest the flesh of the coffee cherries, but pass the beans inside. In such way, the flavor might be improved because of the fermentation that happens in the digestive mechanism. The coffee cherries remain intact from the excretion and they are ready to be processed for consumable coffee. This complicated process also gives smoother and less acidic taste to the coffee and makes people love it.
This is why the Chivet Coffee is extremely expensive and even categorized as one of the most expensive coffees in the world with a price reaching US$ 700 per kilogram. What adds to the value is also rarity. Bali is one of the islands that produce Chivet Coffee alongside with Sumatra, Sulawesi and Java in Indonesia.
The real Civet Coffee comes first from wild Civet. At the time, the farmers gathered the feces (mostly around the coffee plantation) to process the coffee, but now the Civets are kept in a cage. This is where reality comes out: Some of the Civets, even those caged in small bater-cage systems are forced to eat only coffee. However, this is not healthy for them. It is because they are omnivores and they need need more food supply and an additional dose of protein. The coffee diet is killing them, alongside with the stress caused by the cage system. A 2013 BBC investigation found that this intensive Civet farming in Sumatra is a form of serious animal cruelty.
This condition does not only affect the Civet’s population, but also the quality of the coffee that is produced. They were forced to eat any kinds of coffee cherries, without having the ability to prioritize quality, as they used to do in the wildness. The flavor of the coffee will have poor quality compared to the ones from the wildness.
It’s not easy to find the really ‘wild’ Civet Coffee nowadays. Some producers were found to have committed a fraud, because they gave "wild sourced" label to coffee produced by caged Civets. Such bad things happen because people are ready to do whatever it takes to sell the product at the highest price possible. Fake Civet Coffee is produced by simply rubbing the coffee beans that hadn’t been consumed by Civet in the dung of animal,or process it somehow in order to make it look absolutely like ‘real’ Civet Coffee.