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The Cruelty Behind the Most Expensive Coffee in the World

Updated on June 30, 2016

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Kopi Luwak, also known as “civet coffee,” is primarily manufactured and produced in Indonesia and is regarded the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world, easily costing as much as $300 USD per pound and up to $100 USD per cup. Although Indonesia is the main supplier of this luxury product, it is also produced in other countries such as East Timor, the Philippines, Viet Nam, Ethiopia and Thailand. What makes this coffee so unique is the fact that is made from coffee beans that are partially digested and excreted by civets. This digestive process is believed to ferment and alter the chemical structure of the coffee beans which results in a less bitter taste and a smooth flavor.

The traditional method of production is the “cage-free” method which is said to generate the most top-quality tasting Kopi Luwak (civet coffee). As civets consume coffee berries the workers in these plantations collect the excreted coffee beans directly from their plantations and forests allowing the civets to remain in their natural habitat. This process is beneficial for everyone involved as people are able to profit from these animals, which would normally be classified as pests, without the risk of endangering the animal’s welfare.

With only an annual production of between five-hundred and seven-hundred pounds per year and a continuing growth in demand, sadly, many producers have begun turning to inhumane methods for profit. This has resulted in the unregulated removal of civets from their natural habitats. A variety of different civet species are used, some of which are in danger of extinction. The binturong species, for example, has been classified by the International Union for Conservations of Nature’s Red List as being vulnerable to extinction, rendering it protected by Indonesian law. The other is the palm civet which is a more widespread species but it is currently unknown how many of this particular species is captured per year so there is a good chance these unregulated civet farms may be contributing to their possible extinction.

The civets are captured through inhumane methods such as box traps, snares and hunting dogs causing injury, stress and at times death to the animals. They are then either directly sold to commercial civet farm owners or put on display for sale at noisy and dirty wildlife markets. Civet farms can range in size from small rural operated farms to large manufacturing facilities. Within these farms, the civets live under horrific conditions, in small cages without the proper shelter or environment to meet their basic behavioral needs, separated from their families, and deprived of exercise. The animals display obvious signs of distress including pacing, repetitive motion, chewing on their cages and self-mutilation. In addition, these poor creatures suffer from a restrictive diet of strictly coffee berries, resulting in poor nutrition, fur loss, and bloodied stool causing disease and early death.

Please view the video below from PETA.

The Most Cruel Coffee Production in the World

This method is not only cruel to these poor animals but also results in the production of low grade civet coffee beans often passed off as authentic and high quality. Unfortunately, it is difficult to differentiate between inhumane civet coffee and the humane, cage-free, wild-sourced type. Civet coffee producers have been known to mix the caged coffee beans with the cage-free beans before selling and releasing them through the supply chain, rendering the end products inadequately labeled. Retailers and consumers who have an interest in supporting animal-friendly products are thereby deceived into believing the end product they are buying and selling is animal-friendly when this is hardly the case.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is urging the government officials of the countries that are involved in the manufacturing and production of Kopi Luwak to lend their support to cage-free production programs which will, not only protect and save the future of the species, but also support the livelihood of their communities. In addition, officials are also being asked to begin regulating and limiting the removal of civets from the wild, in support of taking the proper steps toward ending caged production. Until a humane chain is established and enforced, the WSPA is urging retailers to scrutinize their supply chains and obtain proof that the product they are selling does come from a humane source.

To learn more about how you can contribute to the protection of our wildlife please contact the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

(c) 2014 Brenda Thornlow

Brenda Thornlow was voted one of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading for 2015. She is the author of the new fiction series My Life as I Knew It; The Revolving Door; A Godless Love and her memoir, My Short-Lived Life at Being Perfect. Available at Amazon. (Link below)

© 2014 Brenda Thornlow


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    • profile image

      justice ipsofacto 3 years ago

      know what? civet coffee actually could more than fetch a price. it actually commands the priciest ranking amongst other coffee in the world. and how could that be? Yes. its we the humans.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Thank you for stopping by Minnetonka Twin and Kathleen! Have a great weekend!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Welcome to the wonderful world of HubPages-Happy to meet you. This is a heart-breaking story and I thank you for sharing it with us. Voted up and hit many buttons.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Welcome to HubPages. I look forward to more of your work. (We've all had "life" get in the way of our writing projects. I have two books on Amazon that I literally sat on for 20 years! Good Luck.)

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Very strange, isn't it? I, also, had never heard of this until recently. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is very interesting....and strange. I have never heard of civet coffee. Terrible injustice! Thanks for making us aware of this practice.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Thanks so much for reading Raymond and Alastar. So horrible how people treat helpless and innocent creatures.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 3 years ago from North Carolina

      One civet cat got loose back in the kitchen once in an inland Chinese restaurant a friend told me. The butcher chased it all over the diner before catching it. Then chop-chop as it squealed. The pal was sickened by the thing whole scene and quickly left. Different culinary strokes for different cultures but that's disgusting...period

    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Isn't it awful what we do to some species for our own pleasure. Well I can do without civet coffee!

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Thank you Jackie, Alastar & Jodah for reading & sharing. Have a wonderful day!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      BK42, just another example of animal exploitation. I had seen a program about this last year on tv. I guess the cage free production is ok, as long as the civets are not restricted to eating only coffee berries. Interestng and you need to spread the word about these practices.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 3 years ago from North Carolina

      You can have civet cat butchered and served fresh to you in China. It's gross and inhumane, believe me. The only way to fight animal torture and abuse is by hurting the offender's pocketbooks. Don't buy and spread the word!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Thank you for sharing and making us aware. Now we can spread the word and the more who know the better. Great service.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Hi Melissa. Thanks for stopping by and bringing awareness about the perfume production as well! Very sad.

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 3 years ago from New York

      These look similar and are closely related to my 'Mr.Fuff Fuff' (genet). I believe they also use civets with perfume production, and that's even more brutal.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Thank you for reading, Billy. Hope all is well!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Terrible! Thank you for raising awareness about this.