The personal motto of many coffee lovers could often be: life is better with coffee, cats, and books (or series, crafts, or whatever your chosen vice)! Hence the worldwide surge in popularity of cat cafes. In North America, the purpose of these is to work with local cat shelters to assist in getting cats adopted.
Once you are happy with the number of cats in your cradle, you may have more time to pursue your other love: coffee. Are you a coffee connoisseur or a novice? Do you already have a favorite brand, roast, variety, or blend or are you still testing the waters when it comes to finding your preference?
Where Did It Begin?
Coffee may be traced back to the insight of a lone goat-herder in Ethiopia, even though it is now farmed and consumed all over the world. The herder discovered that after eating some berries, his goats became more active and energetic. He submitted his findings to a nearby monastery, and the global industry we recognize today arose from these humble origins.
While we may need a caffeine boost to get us going in the morning, our pets do not. They normally wake up with their tails wagging or their mouths meowing and are always ready to go. And if they need a break later, they don't feel bad about taking a quick snooze on your couch or in the sun instead of having an afternoon cup of coffee. So, which blend are you reaching for?
Unique Coffee Choices
There are so many different varieties available and working your way through a list of unique, weird, and wonderful types may be something you wish to add to your bucket list.
Why not investigate the following from various cultures around the world:
- Affogato from Italy
- Kaffeost from Sweden
- Ca Phe Trung from Vietnam
- Qahwa from Saudi Arabia
- Cafe de Olla from Mexico
- Café Touba from Senegal
- Kopi Luwak from Southeast Asia
For our purposes, let us delve into the last but most pricey one on this short list.
Bucket List Coffee
Because of the 2007 film “The Bucket List”, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, kopi luwak (also known as civet coffee or cat feces coffee) is often called Bucket List Coffee.
Jack Nicholson’s character: Edward Cole, is a healthcare billionaire who owns and operates hospitals in the film. When he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he is forced to share a room with another terminally ill patient, Carter Chambers performed by Morgan Freeman, in one of his own hospitals. Chambers makes a list of all the things he hopes to achieve or see before he dies and when Cole discovers it, he persuades Chambers to pursue the list.
What is Luwak Coffee by Definition?
The beans of coffee berries that have been chewed and expelled by the Asian Palm Civet are known as kopi luwak, or civet cat coffee. The moniker is also used to promote coffee prepared from such beans. The procedure, according to coffee bean producers, may enhance the coffee through two mechanisms: selection and digesting.
If the civets opt to eat the best quality coffee beans with richer flavors, selection occurs. The flavor characteristic of the coffee beans ingested may be improved by digestive systems. The civet eats the berries for the beans' meaty pulp and fermentation happens in the digestive tract. Proteolytic enzymes from the civet seep into the beans, resulting in shorter peptides and more free amino acids.
The beans are expelled with other fecal material after passing through the intestines of a civet and then collected for use.
The Asian Palm Civet
The Asian Palm Civet (scientific name: Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus) is not a cat, but it shares many characteristics with felines, such as its hunting and tree-climbing abilities and tendencies.
The Asian Palm Civet is found naturally in a large area range that spans much of southern Asia, including southern China and India, and Sri Lanka. Mongoose and weasels are the closest relatives of this species. Civets climb trees to avoid other predators as well as to hunt.
- These animals are viverrids (small to medium-sized mammals), that eat rodents, snakes, and frogs in addition to fruit.
- Coffee, mango, and palm flower sap are some of their favorite plant-based delicacies.
- Palm flower sap is fermented and used to manufacture toddy, a sweet sort of liquor. The toddy cat moniker stems from the species' habit of devouring palm flower sap.
- This animal's elongated physique and pointed, sharp teeth help it thrive in its environment.
- Palm civets are difficult to monitor, even with the use of a camera, because of their unusual habits.
- Civets can acclimatize to higher altitudes, reducing deforestation-related population decline.
The most important issue these species face today is the loss of natural habitat, which is largely due to deforestation associated with palm oil plantations. Additionally, farming methods utilized in the production of civet cat kopi luwak coffee have also affected their wellbeing.
Kopi Luwak Cruelty
Intensive farming methods, wherein caged civets are forced to consume the coffee beans, have replaced the method of collecting feces from wild civets. Because of horrific conditions like seclusion, insufficient diet, small cages, and a high fatality rate, this method of manufacturing has prompted ethical questions about the mistreatment of civets. According to reports, kopi luwak coffee production poses a substantial danger to indigenous civet populations.
As demand increased for kopi luwak, a boom in civet farming has been seen during the last two or three decades. Wild civets captured in captivity are forced into tiny cages next to or with other civets. The metal wire floor hurts the civets' feet, and the open wire fails to shield these nocturnal critters from sunlight. Caged civets are frequently fed only coffee cherries, which causes malnutrition, and some are physically forced to eat the cherries. Caged civets have been found to have anomalous behavior, a shorter lifespan, starvation, and a higher likelihood of self-harm, such as biting off their own legs, in all trials conducted by animal rights researchers.
For these reasons, kopi luwak has become associated with cruelty and has met with a barrage of discontentment.
The Origins of Luwak Coffee
Kopi Luwak has been produced in regions of Southeast Asia since the beginnings of coffee production, but it is only recently that the product has been aggressively marketed as a luxury item. Originally and according to legend, the coffee was picked and processed by coffee laborers on Dutch plantations in places like Java and Sumatra, who were forbidden from collecting beans for their own use.
The commodity later evolved into a novelty item. Someone understood that this coffee might be marketed as an exotic, one-of-a-kind brand and that consumers would be willing to pay high prices for the experience. Kopi Luwak production has kept increasing, but annual production remains relatively low.
The media swarmed around kopi coffee after it was discussed on The Oprah Winfrey Show and featured in the previously mentioned blockbuster film The Bucket List. Its popularity hit record highs as coffee enthusiasts and novices alike wanted to try what “everyone was talking about”. This unique and unusual coffee garnered a near-fetish-like following for some time.
Caffeine enthusiasts have cheerfully paid up to one hundred dollars for a cup of this "naturally" processed bean, whether out of curiosity, a passion for all things coffee, or a love for the foreign and strange.
Price vs Quality
Given the civet's solitary nature and life in the rainforest, gathering enough seeds to brew one pound of coffee is a time-consuming and hard task, which explains the exorbitant price per pound of green kopi luwak beans. Unfortunately, much of the luwak available on current coffee markets originates from wild, free-roaming civets now imprisoned on civet farms.
Rather than relying on its quality, the kopi luwak coffee price and its story seems to have become its drawcard.
A cup of Kopi Luwak coffee can cost anywhere from 20 to 60 times the cost of an average cup of coffee!
Is it Safe for Consumption?
Kopi luwak is completely safe to consume. It is generally found to be a low-tannin, low-acid coffee with a slew of other health benefits not seen in other varieties. Less sharpness and acidity are believed to be present in the coffee, resulting in a smooth flavor and distinct aroma.
Make Your Choice
Coffee specialists have attempted to explain the lack of quality, while simultaneously wondering if there is enough ethical production to match the demand for products marketed under such labels.
Although the average customer will not pay the outrageous price demanded by this coffee, there is a sector of the populous in the United States, Europe, and East Asia prepared to pay for the perceived luxury or high-quality experience. It doesn't seem to matter if it tastes nice or not. Regardless of your feelings on the quality of kopi luwak, there appears to be a market for items that claim to be rare.
If you still want to sample civet cat coffee, several companies sell “ethically processed” kopi luwak. Research the company's sustainability and processes used and look for authenticity certificates. Even though there are legitimate kopi luwak traders, the majority of kopi coffees originate from caged, farmed civets – even if the label says "wild" or "certified." So, it is a case of buyer-beware.
The choice lies with you, the coffee drinker. Will kopi luwak coffee, one of the weirdest specialty coffees available, be featuring on your bucket list, or will that be thrown out with the cat’s poop!