A cup of kopi luwak could set you back a mere 80 dollars. It’s a rather special coffee, whose fruits have been ingested, digested, and… defecated by the Indonesian civet, in the wild, we should specify. The animal’s digestive enzymes change the protein structure of the coffee beans, making them less acidic, and even giving them a “nutty flavour” once the roasting process has been carried out. These days, kopi luwak’s elevated price is somewhat overinflated: there is no way of knowing whether the coffee beans that have been digested by the Indonesian civet were gathered from the wild or if they are the product of captive or even semi-industrial farming.
Hitherto considered a nuisance animal, the Indonesian civet has attracted particular interest as sales of kopi luwak have spread. Producers of kopi luwak weren’t slow in seeing the upside of putting the animal in a cage, when that meant they were soon able to enjoy the considerable advantages of having “the goose that lays the golden eggs” right where they wanted it; it went down well with tourists too, who were only too pleased to be able to see the animal in captivity. As with any industrial farming, it didn’t take long for the conditions of this captivity to worsen. Let’s add that a coffee expert from the commercial organization of fine coffee roasters and baristas judges that “Kopi luwak just isn’t that good”: even if the beverage is smoother, the other qualities that make the flavour of a “speciality coffee” have almost disappeared.