One of the world’s most expensive coffees is called Kopi Luwak, which translates to “Civet Coffee”, and as the name suggests, a civet is involved – an Asian Palm Civet to be exact.
Ok, I bet you’re thinking what is a civet, and how is it involved – what has it got to do with coffee – well prepare to be grossed out.
A Civet is a small cat-like animal native to south and south east Asia, and to put it bluntly, they “produce” Kopi Luwak via their digestive system.
Asian palm civets select cherries to eat, which then travel through their digestive system and are excreted with other waste, the coffee producers then harvest the cherries from the other waste ready to be sold.
Traditionally, “farmers” would farm the waste from wild civets, however it is now more common for battery farms where civets are kept in captivity in small cages in order to easily farm the excreted material which makes up Kopi Luwak.
Kopi Luwak can cost up to $700 per kg, whereas the farmers are paid a mere $20 per kg, so it really is a lucrative business.
At $700/kg Kopi Luwak is almost as expensive as black ivory coffee ($1100/kg).
Unlike other coffees, Kopu Luwak may vary in flavour from batch to batch due to the beans the civets eat varying – and also the digestion system of each animal varying, so if someone who has experienced drinking this coffee is asked what it tastes like, it may differ greatly from another drinker’s experience.
So remember, if you decide to try out this slightly novel coffee, and don’t think much of the taste, choose your words wisely when describing it, or you may be slightly too literal!