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What Is Civet Coffee?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

Civet coffee, more properly known as kopi luwak, is a rare coffee that is processed in a most unusual and unexpected manner. The beans used to make civet coffee have not been picked directly from a coffee plant by humans, but are instead selected and consumed by civets, cat-like mammals. After the civet excretes the berry in its feces, humans collect the dung, which is then washed so as to extract the berries, which are then ready for roasting and preparation as a beverage. Some marketers of civet coffee advertise it as the most expensive coffee in the world.

Kopi luwack coffee has its origins in Indonesia, home of the Asian palm civet. These creatures are apparently quite fond of coffee beans and are reputed to be very selective in the beans that they choose to eat, which may contribute to the excellent flavor of civet coffee. Recent studies have shown that while the coffee bean passes through the digestive tract of the civet, it is exposed to enzymes that trigger chemical processes that mellow out the flavor of the bean. As a result, connoisseurs claim that civet coffee is both sweet and lacks bitterness.

The beans of civet coffee aren't picked off the coffee plants by humans.
The beans of civet coffee aren't picked off the coffee plants by humans.

Demand for civet coffee has created some problems for its producers as well as coffee merchants. In many places, civets are hunted for food as well as their musk, which is prized for its use in perfumery. Some natives also kill the civet because the animal preys on poultry. As a result, it can be difficult to harvest civet dung in the wild, forcing coffee producers to find other ways to meet the demand for kopi luwak.

After being excreted, civet coffee beans are washed and roasted.
After being excreted, civet coffee beans are washed and roasted.

Entrepreneurs are now setting up civet farms in which the animals are kept in cages and fed coffee beans. While this makes it easier to access civet dung, some aficionados claim that the coffee produced from the beans consumed by caged civet is not as good as that from wild civet. Meanwhile, coffee merchants are concerned that they may be receiving shipments of inauthentic civet coffee beans.

Kopi luwack coffee originated in Indonesia.
Kopi luwack coffee originated in Indonesia.

In some places, the demand for civet coffee as well as concerns about the ethics of its sale and production have caused researchers to develop ways of synthetically producing a kopi luwak-like coffee without needing the assistance of actual civets. Coffee beans are subjected to an enzyme bath before roasting, which imitates the process of digestion, resulting in a mellow coffee that can be sold at a competitive price.

Discussion Comments


I tried Weasel Kopi Luwak. Can someone can tell me what is the difference between Civet Coffee and Weasel Coffee? I also heard about Kopi Alamid. Is it the same as Weasel?


I'm against the idea of civet cat coffee too. Not because this coffee passes through the digestive system of an animal first, but because of the way these animals are treated in the process.

Civet coffee is very much a luxury item. I know that there are a lot of people who drink this coffee regularly, but it's never going to be a staple kind of coffee in households. I think catching civet cats and locking them up for the production of this coffee is inhumane and unnecessary.

I also completely agree with the article that the idea of a civet cat farm completely undermines the value of civet coffee. The point is to utilize the coffee beans that civets have picked out to eat in the wild. By keeping these animals in cages and feeding them coffee beans, the actual quality of the coffee is being reduced.

Don't you agree with me?


@anamur-- I know when you first hear about palm civet coffee, it sounds kind of strange, okay- very strange. But it's not that bad!

It actually tastes very good, and it doesn't become bitter no matter how long you keep it brewing. This is the problem with most coffees. They tend to become bitter and acidic sometimes even right after a fresh brew. Acidic coffee is horrible on the stomach. That's the great part about palm civet coffee and it truly is very aromatic.

Plus, it's not like you are drinking dung. The coffee cherries which are taken from the dung are very much intact. They are separated from the dung and cleaned properly and go through processing.

It is very expensive and the higher the price, the higher the guarantee that it's the original palm civet coffee. There is way too much civet coffee these days for it to be real. There are just not enough civet farms for that. If you buy civet coffee in the US, it most likely will be real since it must be imported. But civet coffee which is sold in Asia is mostly fake.

I've heard about this coffee, my friends call it the (excuse my language) "poop coffee." No offense to anyone, but I personally have no idea how people can consume this! I could not get myself to drink something which has been made from dung ingredients no matter how good it might taste.

And I believe it's quite expensive too right? It must be since the process of making it is difficult and costly. Do we really need to pay so much more and drink this coffee? How good could it possible be? I think I will stick to my regular cup of coffee.

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    • The beans of civet coffee aren't picked off the coffee plants by humans.
      By: foto76
      The beans of civet coffee aren't picked off the coffee plants by humans.
    • After being excreted, civet coffee beans are washed and roasted.
      By: Marzia Giacobbe
      After being excreted, civet coffee beans are washed and roasted.
    • Kopi luwack coffee originated in Indonesia.
      By: volff
      Kopi luwack coffee originated in Indonesia.