What is Kopi Luwak Coffee and How is It Made?

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Johny Morrisson

Kopi Luwak coffee beans are distinct from other types of coffee due to their unique method of production. The Asian Palm Civet consumes the coffee cherries, which are then processed in their digestive system. Kopi Luwak is essentially made from the feces of the civet, which is why it is also known as cat poop coffee.

Isn’t it sound disgusting?

Don’t worry! The beans are properly cleaned and the outer layer is removed after the Civet excretes it.

Kopi Luwak coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the World, One cup of this unique coffee may cost up to 100 to 300 dollars.

Let’s get deeper into how this specialty coffee is actually made.

What is Kopi Luwak Made of?

How is kopi luwak coffee made
How is Kopi Luwak Made

The term Kopi Luwak refers to a unique method of processing coffee, not the type of coffee bean. 

Asian Palm Civets also known as Luwak eat ripened red cherries from the Arabica coffee plants. Mostly, these civets are encaged in large coffee farms to produce Kopi Luwak at scale.

The digestive enzymes of palm civets remove the pulp from the red cherries but do not digest the coffee beans. Also, some special kind of fermentation occurs inside the digestive system due to which Kopi Luwak has unique flavors.

The civets poop out the coffee beans in approximately sixteen to twenty-four hours, which are then collected by the farmers.

After collection, they are gathered together in batches where they are processed and washed properly.

Finally, the beans are roasted and are sold as the most expensive coffee beans in the World.

History of Kopi Luwak coffee

The history of Kopi Luwak coffee dates back to the 18th century when Indonesia was a part of the Dutch Empire.

Arabica coffee plants were the main cash crop of Indonesia at that time. And the Dutch had complete control over the plantation of coffee trees.

The Dutch farmers were very harsh towards the locals and refused to let them use coffee for drinking. However, the locals also love coffee and wish to consume the coffee they have cultivated. 

As soon as the locals noticed that the civets excrete coffee beans after eating the red cherries, they began using the undigested coffee beans they excrete. It is surprising to discover that the coffee produced using these beans is more flavorful and aromatic.

Soon the fame of this unusually processed coffee was spread from the locals to Dutch rulers and became famous throughout the World. 

What is special about Luwak coffee?

The most special thing about Kopi Luwak coffee is its unique selection process. It is known that Palm civets only choose the best cherries to eat from the coffee plants.

There’s a debate regarding the specialness of Kopi Luwak coffee. Many people argue that they haven’t noticed any considerable difference when having a cup of coffee produced from Kopi Luwak beans.

But I must say that the unique selection process of Kopi Luwak beans certainly adds more flavors to the cup of coffee.

After the fame of Kopi Luwak, many greedy merchants are also selling normal coffee beans in the name of Kopi Luwak coffee beans. So, it is very difficult to find real Kopi Luwak coffee beans nowadays. 

what does kopi luwak coffee taste like?

Kopi Luwak coffee has nutty and caramel flavors and has earthy and musty notes like any other good quality Indonesian Arabica beans.

The aroma of these beans is unmatchable. I also noticed that the acidity of Luwak beans is slightly lower than the normal ones and overall, it’s syrupy, smoother, and more flavorful.

However, the taste also depends on the after-processing, washing, and roasting process of the beans.

How much does Kopi Luwak cost?

The price of coffee Luwak coffee is around 100 to 500 dollars per pound in Western countries which makes Kopi Luwak Coffee one of the most expensive coffees in the World. 

However, the price of Kopi Luwak coffee is much lower in Southeast Asian countries where it is mainly produced. The price is just around 30 to 50 percent more than the normal Coffee beans.

Why is Kopi Luwak so expensive?

The reason Kopi Luwak is so expensive is the selection process which is too much time and energy-consuming. 

Farmers have to collect the dropping of civets from the forests or farms where they can find only four to five beans per dropping. You can imagine how much time-consuming this process can be to make a pound of coffee beans.

After collection, the beans are washed and the outer layer is removed during the washing process. After that, the beans are dried under the sun. This process is repeated two times to remove any bacteria or contaminants.

A second reason for Kopi Luwak’s high price is its incredible taste, which is praised around the world and drives its demand higher.

The controversy behind Kopi Luwak Coffee

With the increased demand for Kopi Luwak coffee, the farm owners started industrializing the process of this coffee production. 

The wild Luwaks were confined in small cells under miserable conditions in order to scale up coffee production.

Asian civets

In those tiniest cages, the Civets live miserable lives and violate any animal rights law. There is no mobility for animals, poor hygiene, and very bad shelter. 

This also kills the real essence of the selection process where Civets are known to eat only the best fully ripped cherries from the coffee plants. While in cages they are fed with all types of cherries. 

Moreover, palm civets are wild animals and they need an area of at least 17 square kilometers naturally. But hundreds of Civets are kept in small cages with an area of less than a hectare. This is a clear case of animal cruelty.

Civets are omnivores and naturally, their diet consists of a variety of feed like small animals, worms, insects, and dried fruits. In the cages, their diet is only restricted to coffee cherries which makes their health very poor. And also the digestive enzymes that do the magic in the case of wild civets do not function properly in this commercialized process.

This industrialized production of Kopi Luwak can never compare with the coffee produced by original wild Civets.

According to an article published in the Guardian, it is almost impossible to find genuine wild Kopi Luwak coffee. The only way to get the real Kopi Luwak coffee is to follow the wild civet droppings and collect them by yourself. Nowadays, Kopi Luwak coffee mainly comes from caged civets held in miserable conditions.

So, if you are buying Kopi Luwak coffee from your local store then there is more than an 80% chance that those beans are fake. By buying those beans, not only, you will miss the unique flavors of real Kopi Luwak but you will also be contributing to animal cruelty.

If you want to buy a Kopi Luwak coffee, make sure that the dealer is trusted. You can check out the pictures or videos of their farms explaining the process of Kopi Luwak production. 

Is civet coffee safe to drink?

Kopi Luwak is completely safe to drink. You might be thinking that the coffee produced from cat poop will contain so many bacteria and contaminants. 

The outer layer of the cherries is removed during the washing process and the washing and drying process is repeated two times to remove all the possible contaminants. 

After the processing, the coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures which kills all the remaining bacteria. So, in short, there is no harm in drinking a cup of civet poop coffee.


Where Is Kopi Luwak Produced?

Kopi Luwak originated in Indonesia in the 18th century. Originally it was produced from wild civets roaming freely on the farms.
But after the popularity of Kopi Luwak coffee, farm owners started caging the wild civets to produce Kopi Luwak at scale.
Nowadays, Kopi Luwak coffee is produced in many countries in South East Asia Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and also in some African countries.

Is Kopi Luwak Coffee Cruel?

The Kopi Luwak of the 18th century was not cruel but after the fame of Kopi Luwak around the World, many greedy merchants started keeping wild civets in cages to produce poop coffee at scale.
Civets are kept inside very tiny cages where they can not roam freely, they also end up fighting with each other and these cruel living conditions also develop abnormal behaviors among them.

Is Kopi Luwak a Cat?

Kopi is an Indonesian word for coffee, and Luwak is a cat-like wild animal. So, Kopi Luwak coffee is also known as cat poop coffee. 

Is Kopi Luwak coffee halal?

Kopi Luwak coffee is generally considered Halal if the coffee beans are properly washed after the excretion process.
Also, Kopi Luwak coffee is produced and sold in Indonesia; one of the largest Muslim countries in the World.

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Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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