Many of us first heard about the ‘cat poop’ coffee in the 2007 film, “The Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson (Edward) and Morgan Freeman (Carter), as two terminally ill cancer patients who escape their cancer ward to embark on an adventure to mark off everything on their bucket-lists before dying. One of the items on Edward’s (Nicholson) list—enjoy a cup of Kopi Luwak, aka Civet Coffee, aka ‘cat poop coffee’.
It wasn’t until around 2010 that civet coffee become popular, but it didn’t take long before everyone wanted a cup. Selling at around $60 to $80 a cup you’d think an industry created around coffee cherries that have been eaten, digested, and pooped out of the civet cats before harvesting for your consumption would only find a small market if any, but the beans have become incredibly popular all over the world.
Antony Wild, coffee consultant and author of “Coffee: A Dark History”, says it’s his fault for the civet cats popularity in the west, and that the price we are paying for civet coffee is much higher than a few hundred dollars a pound. Now Wild is on a mission to put an end to the industry that he created.
“To my regret, I was the one who started it all ...
I first read a description of kopi luwak buried in a short paragraph in a 1981 copy of National Geographic Magazine. Ten years later, in 1991, as coffee director of Taylors of Harrogate, I was the first person to import kopi luwak into the west – a single kilogramme. I didn't sell it through the company, but thought, perhaps naively, that its quirky, faintly off-putting origins from a wild animal roaming Indonesian coffee estates might be of interest to the local newspaper and radio in Yorkshire where the company was based. It proved to be so much bigger than that – national news, TV and radio fell over themselves to cover it. Kopi luwak put Taylors – and me – on the map.” [Source: Antony Wild/ The Guardian]
Because of the international demand of Kopi Luwak, it has been become increasingly hard for farmers to keep up their supply. Many farmers have resorted to caging the civet cats where they once freely roamed coffee estates, and have been using inferior beans including Robusta and un-ripened fruit.
According to Antony Wild, these shy nocturnal civet palm cats are being poached, fed a diet of coffee cherries, and suffer physically from the demand;
“The naturally shy and solitary nocturnal creatures suffer greatly from the stress of being caged in proximity to other luwaks, and the unnatural emphasis on coffee cherries in their diet causes other health problems too; they fight among themselves, gnaw off their own legs, start passing blood in their scats, and frequently die,” Antony Wild shared in a recent blog.
Antony Wild’s “Cut the Crap!” campaign is about making farmers and governments accountable for their treatment of these wild cats. Wild has written a pdf including;
- What is Kopi Luwak
- About “Cut the Crap!”
- What can you do?
- Name and Shame List
- Claims and Facts:
“CLAIM: Our kopi luwak is certified 100% wild.”
“FACT: There is no independent certification body for wild kopi luwak.”
What is it worth to get a sip of the world’s most expensive coffee, whose tasting notes and character comes from the digestive juices within the cat’s stomach and the scent glands from its anal passing?
What do you think?
Have you had a taste of the Kopi Luwak?
What did you think about it?
For more information:
- News and Views 24: World’s Costliest Coffee comes from Cats Poop
- The Guardian: Civet Coffee: Why it’s time to Cut the Crap!
- Fill BBC undercover investigation into the ‘Our World Coffee’s Cruelest Secret’
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