Civet Coffee – Its Origin, History, and Distribution
Have you ever stopped and thought about how Civet Coffee is produced? No? Well after reading this I am sure you will agree that It is a very interesting process. Indeed, Kopi Luwak is made in an unorthodox way, and people are usually surprised to hear the overall production process if they are not familiar with this type of coffee.
What makes this coffee so is that Asian Palm Civets are involved in the coffee bean production process.
This type of coffee is also known as “Kopi Luwak” and it has become much more popular in recent years. It has even made a couple of appearances in famous movies and TV-Shows. We have summarized these media appearances, and you can see these scenes from the famous movie “The Bucket List” here and a couple of TV Shows here.
To see the most important facts about Civet Coffee in a summarized and easily consumable way, we created the infographic below.
We hope it will be useful for you and it helps you to learn more about Kopi Luwak.
The Coffee Tree – Coffea Spp.
There are many different coffee varieties, with the two main categories being Arabica and Robusta.
The Coffee tree grows in tropical areas and plants typically carry a red fruit, also known as a cherry. Though there are many different Coffee varietals, and these can have different coloured cherries. Thus cherries may also be yellow, like found with the Varietal Yellow Cattura.
Cherries usually contain two coffee beans, but in some instances, they may contain only one bean, this kind of bean is called “Peaberry Coffee”.
Coffee Plants grow best in sandy soil. Shade grown coffee performs the best. This is because of the slower development of the coffee cherries, which allows the production of more sugars, and an overall sweeter coffee.
Of the two main varieties, Arabica is of higher quality and grows at a higher altitude. However, Arabica Plants produce fewer coffee cherries and are more difficult to grow as they are more limited in the areas they can gro and are susceptible to pests and diseases.
Coffee Beans are contrary to popular belief not beans, but are in fact seeds.
The “beans’ are surrounded by the sweet fruit flesh of coffee cherries. There may be one, two or sometimes even three seeds in a coffee cherry.
What is Civet Coffee?
A Civet is a small mammal belonging to the Paradoxurus genus that is found in forests in numerous parts of the World. The most well-known civets are the Asian Palm Civets, often referred to as the Civet Cat. There are many other members of this genus, such as African Civets, which as their name implies are mostly found in Central Africa.
Although referred to as a cat, this small mammal is actually a viverrid. The natural habitat of this species are the forests of Southeast Asia and India. These small animals roam around forests in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
As they are omnivores, they eat food derived from both plants and animals, largely depending upon availability.
History of Civet Coffee
When the Dutch first arrived in Indonesia, they created coffee plantations so as to mass produce coffee for export.
This meant that the locals could no longer grow coffee on their own lands nor did they have enough money to purchase coffee from the market.
However, they soon discovered that small, cat-like animals liked to eat ripe coffee cherries and partially digest the beans. They started to collect the droppings and then roasted the civet coffee beans inside. This allowed them to be able to drink a delicious black coffee beverage without having to pay the high prices at the markets.
In Vietnam, the coffee culture developed in a similar fashion. There, the French planted coffee in the Highlands, and in the Philippines it was originally planted by the Franciscans. In all of these areas, the locals were too poor to buy the coffee from the markets.
After the dutch found out about the coffee the locals were consuming, they tried it themselves, and enjoyed the surprisingly delicious brew without any bitterness.
Later, this type of coffee became popular with those who appreciated high-quality coffee brews and liked to try something new. Recently, movies and TV-Shows have brought this into the minds of many people, and made it well-known around the world.
Kopi Luwak Ethics
Unfortunately, because of the popularity of Civet Coffee, some unethical producers have taken advantage of profits to be had from Kopi Luwak. They put Civets into cages and force-feed them coffee cherries for increased output. We’re trying to fight this practice, because it is cruel to the animals. Furthermore, it also reduces the quality of the coffee produced.
We believe in protecting the habitat of Civets, and have created a beneficial partnership with a local tribe in the Philippines. These people have now stopped hunting these small creatures, which they previously saw as pests since they destroyed the crops growing on local farms.
Now they profit from the production of this special type of animal coffee, the civets are no longer seen as pests but as a source of valuable income.
Civet Coffee Fermentation
Fermentation is a big part of the coffee production process and plays a major role in making a coffee taste great.
Usually, there are two main types of fermentation: dry fermentation and wet coffee fermentation.
However, the coffee production process by the Asian Palm Civet adds another fermentation step, during which, the coffee gets its unique clean flavor profile.
What Makes Civet Coffee different?
There are two main reasons why Civet Coffee tastes especially good:
- The Asian Palm Civet naturally selects the ripest and therefore sweetest coffee cherries (to enjoy the delicious fruit flesh).
- Enzymes in the stomach of the Civet Cat break down a protein in the coffee beans that is the major source of bitterness in coffee. During the digestion process, the bitterness of the coffee is removed. Thus this uncommon fermentation method results in the smooth, well-balanced taste of Civet Coffee.
Following collection, the coffee is cleaned, dehulled, and dried to optimal moisture content. It is then roasted to bring out the unique flavor in our Wild Civet Coffee.
Local Namings of Kopi Luwak
Since this coffee is produced in many different countries, there are a few different names for it. The most common names are Kopi Luwak and Civet Coffee, however, these terms have the same meaning: “Kopi” is the Indonesian word for “Coffee”, and “Luwak” is the Indonesian word for the Asian Palm Civet. It is also often referred to as “Luwak Coffee”.
In Vietnam it is known as “Caphe Chon”, with “Caphe” being the Vietnamese word for “Coffee”, and “Chon” being their word for the Asian Palm Civet.
What does the Civet Coffee Production Process at Kopi Luwak Direct Look Like?
It is well known that Civet Cats are choosy in what they eat when food is readily available. This means that they only eat the ripest, sweetest tasting coffee cherries from the Coffee Trees. With their fine nose, they can smell the highest quality and ripest coffee cherries to feed upon.
It is no surprise that the highest quality coffee cherries also contain the highest quality coffee beans. Once the beans have been eaten, they are processed in the Civet Cat’s stomach.
During processing by the Luwaks digestive system, enzymes within the coffee beans are broken down. This removes the bitterness in the coffee beans and leaves a delicious, smooth flavor without any bitterness.
This fermentation process greatly alters the flavor, and produces the unique taste of Kopi Luwak Coffee.
After the Civet Coffee is processed by the animals, locals from the tribe that we partnered up with, go through and search the forest floor and collect the droppings.
It is then thoroughly cleaned and sundried to make a natural processed coffee.
Afterwards, the remainder of the outer hull is removed by running the Civet Coffee through a dehulle. This removes all remaining unclean parts produced by the fermentation process. The clean coffee beans can now be collected.
After dehulling the Kopi Luwak, the next step of the Kopi Luwak Making Process is to roast the coffee.
Next, we sort the coffee so that no defects end up in the roasted coffee.
We roast in a commercial roaster to a medium roast, to guarantee optimal flavor for our customers. If you would prefer to order a custom roast, this is possible if you order 1 kg or more (due to minimum roaster limits).
Finally, we roast the coffee beans and pack it in one-way-valve coffee bags. This guarantees the freshest coffee possible for our customers.
For further explanations about the separate steps of the Civet Coffee Making Process, please check out the other articles on our site, and watch the complete video of our Kopi Luwak Making Process below:
To read more about the Asian Palm Civet, please visit our page here.
Collection of Civet Cat Droppings
Civet Coffee is often also referred to as “Cat Poop Coffee”. This has partially given it a bad reputation because a few bad actors have mockingly ruined the reputation of this industry for a cheap joke.
However, we are one of the few producers in the world that ensures our coffee is produced in a sustainable way. We pride ourselves on helping to protect the natural population of the Asian Palm Civet, and thus help them regain their natural habitat.
Our coffee is produced in a 100% organic way, and we only collect droppings from wild living civet cats.
What to do with your civet coffee, once you have received your package?
If you ordered a larger bag and can’t drink everything within a reasonable time, make sure to store your coffee beans the right way.
Ideally avoid contact with the light and keep the coffee beans away from humidity. For optimal storage tips, visit our page about how to store coffee beans.
Brewing Civet Coffee
For our recommended ways of brewing wild Civet Coffee, please visit our Brewing Guide section. Here we give recommendations on how to create exquisite tasting Espresso, Brewed Coffee, Pour-Over, and many more ways of brewing.
Are you ready to purchase wild Civet Coffee?
Please click here to place your order today!