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The Cruelty Behind the Most Expensive Coffee in the World
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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
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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)
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