Civet coffee, also known as Kopi Luwak, is one of the world's most expensive coffees. But beyond its affluent reputation hides a darker truth - that this luxurious brew has come at great cost to both civets in the wild and those kept under captivity.
In this blog post, we'll cover the production process of Civet coffee and animal welfare concerns associated with caged civets used in many farms today.
What is Civet coffee?
Civet coffee, also known as Kopi Luwak, is a unique and highly sought-after coffee variety that comes from Southeast Asia. What makes this coffee special is the fact that it's produced from the excrement of a small mammal called the Civet cat. Yes, you read that right!
The Civet eats the coffee cherries, but only digests the outer fruit, leaving the seed or coffee bean intact. These beans are then collected from the Civet's droppings, cleaned, and roasted to produce the delicate and smooth coffee known as Kopi Luwak.
What does civet coffee taste like?
Civet coffee has a unique and complex flavour profile. It's known for its earthy and musty taste with hints of caramel and chocolate, as well as being highly aromatic. It has a smooth and almost buttery texture, without any of the bitterness or acidity found in other coffees.
The production process of Civet coffee
Coffee cherries are eaten by Civet cats, whose digestive system ferments the beans. The undigested beans are then excreted and collected by coffee farmers who thoroughly wash, dry and roast them. The process may seem unusual, but the result is a smooth coffee with an earthy taste that coffee lovers rave about.
However, the production process of Civet coffee has been controversial due to animal welfare concerns. The natural process of finding and collecting coffee beans in the wild is inefficient and labour-intensive, leading to the development of caged civets in many farms today.
In captivity, these animals are often kept in crowded cages where they are fed a low-quality diet and subjected to other forms of neglect. This has led to animal welfare organisations advocating for an end to this unethical practice.
The issues with Civet coffee
As already mentioned, the production of Civet cat coffee has been criticised for its unethical treatment of animals, with animal welfare organisations calling for an end to the practice. In addition, the impact on wild civets has been significant, as many have been taken from their natural habitat and placed in captivity.
Other issues with Civet coffee include its high price tag (due to increasing demand) and the fact that there has been a lack of transparency in the industry. As such, many coffee farmers have been accused of unethical practices, such as over-harvesting wild civets or mistreating caged ones.
Ethical alternatives to Civet coffee
If you're keen to enjoy a cup of rare coffee but don't want to contribute to the unethical production of Civet cat coffee, there are several alternatives out there. These include other types of specialty coffees such as organic, fair-trade, or shade-grown varieties that have been ethically sourced and produced in an environmentally friendly way.
If you're looking for a unique brewing experience, there are also some interesting alternatives such as honey processed coffee, which offers an incredibly smooth and sweet flavour, or cold brew coffee, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Civet cat coffee is an expensive and luxurious beverage that has come at great cost to both civets in the wild and those kept under captivity. However, there are many ethical alternatives out there that will help ensure you enjoy your cup of coffee without contributing to Civet coffee cruelty.
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