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Is Kopi Luwak Unethical?

Updated: Jan 19

The coffee industry has seen great progress in tackling a variety of ethical issues from better worker pay to sustainable farming practices like crop rotation. Kopi Luwak coffee however is no exception, and the point of this blog is not to glorify or promote it, but to educate and boycott a inhumane sub-industry.


 

THE INDUSTRY


Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is a rare and expensive type of coffee that is produced from coffee beans that have been digested by the Asian palm civet. The civet is a small mammal that is found in Southeast Asia, and it feeds on coffee cherries, which are the fruits that contain the coffee beans. The beans pass through the civet's digestive system and are then collected from the feces of the animal.


The digestive process of producing kopi luwak gives it its distinctive flavor. The civet's stomach enzymes ferment the beans, breaking down the proteins and altering their chemical composition, resulting in a coffee that is said to have a smooth, less bitter taste.

Civets were captured in the wild, and over generations bred on farms to be kept in small cages, and to be force-fed coffee cherries for most of their lives. This often leads to biting the cage bars, pacing in circles, going insane and suffering from malnutrition. Additionally the monoculture coffee farms that produce kopi luwak can have a negative impact on the surrounding forest and wildlife. All of this for a fancy cup of coffee?


Practically all the time, civet farms are lying about 'cruelty free' Kopi Luwak' and using this as marketing and PR for damage control on an industry full of animal cruelty. In theory if these coffee cherries are collected from wild civets then there's no issue, but this type of Kopi Luwak is a needle in a haystack, and all forms on the market are derived from farms.


The world of specialty coffee already offers so many unique and delicious flavours, in tandem with better ethics and sustainable farming practices, so boycotting practices like Kopi Luwak is a minimum we encourage everyone to do.

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