What is Kopi Luwak coffee?

  • By: Steve
  • Date: May 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

 

Kopi Luwak coffee is different from all other coffee because it can only achieve its unique and distinctive taste by being consumed by the Asian palm civet cat before the preparation of the coffee beans can begin.

The civet cat eats the coffee cherry but only actually digests the pulp and flesh of the cherry which is the part that we humans discard anyway.

It then poo’s out the coffee beans that contain the flavour that can only be achieved by going through the digestive system of the Asian palm civet.

civet cat

It’s the only coffee in the world that actually gets consumed twice. Once by an animal and once by a human.

Coffee starts its life as a coffee cherry that grows on coffee trees and then the seeds that are inside the cherry get roasted and turned into the coffee beans we use to make the coffee we drink every day.

Most coffee cherries get harvested when the cherries become ripe so that they can achieve their maximum flavour potential.

The problem is that a lot of coffee cherries get picked when they are either over-ripe or under-ripe and get mixed with all the perfectly ripe ones to create a selection of good but not great coffee beans.

The areas where the palm civet cats live are abundant with coffee plants and they can afford to be very selective and only choose the juiciest, ripest cherries to eat and don’t bother with the under-ripe or over-ripe cherries.

The two unique properties that make Kopi Luwak coffee special are that the civet cat only chooses the best coffee and then it goes through a unique “marinating” process whilst it moves its way through the civets intestinal tract and digestive system.

Once it comes out the other end you have a combination of the best coffee cherries and a coffee bean that is flavoured like no other!

luwak coffee

Why is it called Kopi Luwak?

“Kopi” is Indonesian for “Coffee” and “Luwak” is Indonesian for “Mongoose” so translated into English directly is “Coffee Mongoose”

A mongoose is from the cat family and the civet cat is an essential part of the process of producing the coffee and so it is described in Indonesian as “Coffee Cat”.

Kopi luwak coffee is produced in Indonesia and the nearby islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra and parts of the Philippines.

It can’t be made anywhere else because unlike all other coffee it needs the presence of the Asian palm civet which is native to and mostly found only in South East Asia.

What is special about kopi luwak coffee?

It’s a very unique coffee that is made from the undigested coffee seeds eaten by an Asian civet cat.

The seeds are removed from the poo of the cat and then cleaned and roasted into coffee beans.

That is the key thing that makes it a very special coffee. There is no other coffee that produces a flavour anything close.

It’s a very expensive coffee because of the unique flavour and of course reflects the extremely labour-intensive process that it has to go through before the coffee even gets roasted.

It’s similar to truffle mushrooms where the truffle itself is not that expensive but what makes it expensive is that they grow underground and have to be dug out by pigs or hunting dogs. It takes a long time to find them and time is money.

High-quality Kopi Lupak that is ethically sourced involves finding and gathering the poo of the Asian palm civet in the wild and then extracting the coffee seeds from it ready for roasting.

What does Kopi Luwak coffee taste like?

There is definitely a novelty factor attached to this coffee. Because of the fact it’s eaten by a cat first and it’s also super expensive kind of elevates to an elite position in the coffee world but is it justified?

The general consensus is that it is a good quality coffee but perhaps it doesn’t justify the high price that it commands.

It is smooth with no bitterness at all with hints of caramel and chocolate.

The bottom line is that despite the price there is the demand for it and while the demand exists and people are prepared to pay the money for a unique coffee that is produced like no other then it will continue to be made.

Want to try some?

This is a super expensive coffee and can cost hundreds of pounds per kg but if you have never tried it before, buy a small quantity first and perfect your brewing method.

The last thing you want to do is pull an espresso shot wrongly or use the wrong coffee to water ratio as it could ruin your drink.

Follow one of the brewing methods below as its really important with a coffee of this quality.

Here is a suggestion where you can buy them in a bag of 50g and it will cost you about £5 per cup which is not bad for a coffee that is as revered as this one.

It’s also been purchased by a number of people already that have been very happy with it:

Wild Kopi Luwak Coffee Beans from Bali
Wild Kopi Luwak Coffee Beans from Bali

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If you want to try some coffee beans that are a little different from the ordinary stuff you get in the supermarkets but the price of Kopi Luwak is a bit steep then here are some good ones to consider that won’t break the bank:

How to choose and buy coffee beans

Kopi Luwak is excellent as a special gift for coffee lovers or a special treat for yourself but if it seems a little over the top then here are some other coffee gifts to consider that will be a little easier on the bank balance:

Cheap coffee gifts

What’s the best brewing method for Kopi Luwak?

The pour-over method works best to get the best out of these unique coffee beans.

You can use a filter coffee machine and should use a coffee to water to coffee ratio of 1:16 (1 part coffee to 16 parts water).

A cafetière will also work well to brew this exclusive coffee. This article explains how to get a perfect coffee using a cafetière:

How to make coffee in a cafetiere

Or you can also make espresso using a recommended brew ratio of 1:2

This coffee is super expensive and brewing it correctly is super important to get the optimum flavour.

You can learn more about brew ratio’s in this article:

Ground coffee to water ratio

Is it safe to drink?

It is completely safe to drink as the beans are completely intact, are thoroughly cleaned and they then go through a roasting process at high temperature.

Is Kopi Luwak coffee kosher?

This is a little bit of a grey area but it seems like although the coffee beans pass through the civet cat and are not produced by the cat itself then it probably is kosher.

Here is the full kashrut of civet coffee answer.

Is it vegan?

All coffee is vegan because it is the seeds of coffee cherries that grow on trees therefore it is plant-based.

However, there are some issues around this type of coffee specifically because some people are concerned that not all Kopi Lewak coffee beans are ethically sourced.

There are some farms that have been set up to specifically feed the Asian civet cats with coffee berries and harvest the beans from their poo and there are no specific regulations around the well-being of the cats that causes concern amongst some vegans.

What are the animal rights issues around the civet cat?

There is some concern that as demand for this coffee has risen that it has become more commercial.

There could be some locations in Indonesia where the civet cats are kept in cages and fed the coffee berries in order to make it easier to collect the seeds once they have passed through the cat.

If you do buy this coffee then do your best to ensure that it is ethically sourced.

Here is a short video showing how labour intensive it is to produce this speciality coffee and the care that goes into it:

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