Probably best known as the world’s most expensive coffee, kopi luwak (civet coffee) is made from coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by Asian Palm Civet cats, nocturnal, catlike animals native to Asia and Africa. The cats love fresh coffee berries, and they eat the ripe fruit straight from the tree, stripping off the soft, sweet exterior and swallowing the coffee bean whole in the process.
Sound appetising? Apparently, the digestive enzymes remove any bitterness from the beans, so what’s eventually excreted is a sweet, smooth, mellow tasting bean which is then collected and hygienically and thoroughly cleaned. The civet beans are only roasted lightly, so as to preserve their complex flavours. The resulting coffee can fetch hundreds of pounds a kilo.
The term ‘kopi luwak’ refers to any type of coffee processed in this way, and many manufacturers produce their own brand. As there are many variations in the natural process, ranging from differences in beans, climate and growing conditions to the diet and health of the cats, no two differently-branded packs of kopi luwak will be quite the same, but should have the same smooth flavour.
Coffee connoisseurs and industry experts aren’t united on the subject of kopi luwak, with many claiming it’s a novelty item, and that the price refers more to the production gimmick and rarity value than any benefit in flavour. A trade in farmed kopi luwak has also sprung up to meet demand, with civets kept in cages, a practice which has attracted concern from animal welfare organisations.
At the Wholesale Coffee Company, you won’t find the slightly controversial kopi luwak amongst our range – but you will find many other fantastic, top quality brands and types of coffee bean, all representing great value for money. For more information, please visit our coffee beans page.