what is kopi luwak

What Is Kopi Luwak Coffee? Price + Why Avoid It (Cat Poop!?)

Holdovers from the days where coffee was more about myths and salesmanship than quality and origin still exist. Examples include “monsooned” coffees, Jamaica Blue Mountain, and the granddaddy of them all; Kopi Luwak.

Here’s what you should know about Kopi Luwak coffee including the history, crappy harvesting practices, price, and why you should never order it.

What is Kopi Luwak?

The Legend has it Kopi Luwak (Indonesian: coffee from the Luwak Civet cat) was discovered in Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule. During that time, native farmers and plantation workers were forbidden from harvesting coffee for their own use and were left to scrounge around for it.

They soon discovered that the civet cat would eat coffee cherries and pass the seeds—the coffee beans—without digesting them (which, coincidentally, is what happens with the seeds of most fruits, and just so happens to be the evolutionary purpose of most fruits). Upon brewing coffee made from these beans, they discovered it tasted much better than the conventional coffee of the time.

kopi luwak poop

There are two obvious reasons this would be the case:

  1. Selective picking and thorough “washing”.
  2. The civet cat, free to graze on these cherries, would naturally consistently eat only the ripe cherries, while coffee pickers back then were much less discriminating.

The beans would also have all the extra fruity bits stripped off by enzymes during digestion, resulting in a thoroughly clean result; leaving fruit pulp or mucilage on the beans can lead to fermentation or mold during drying, something that would have been quite common for regularly processed coffee in the mid-19th century.

Kopi Luwak is Really “Crappy” Coffee

What Kopi Luwak was is no big mystery: well-processed beans from uniformly ripe coffee cherries. It’s a near-certainty it would have been appreciably better than what was processed by humans back then, and that’s what has created the myth that still surrounds it today, and what people who peddle it insist still remains the case.

Specialty coffee today is just that: made from as uniformly ripe coffee cherries as humanly possible, and then processed and sorted to be as high quality as possible. Kopi Luwak was just a laborious “shortcut” in a time where coffee was much less understood.

Not only that, but modern specialty coffee now showcases the flavors of where it’s from, something Kopi Luwak sellers and supporters (then and now) dismiss in favor of some sort of unknowable animal magic.

The animals are caged and force-fed these caffeine-laden coffee cherries all day, every day. Remember how the crux of Kopi Luwak was the uniformly ripe cherries? Not so here.

So even if you overlook the fact that this kind of coffee—itself an honest-to-God vegan product—has somehow felt the need to incorporate a bit of animal suffering, you’re not even getting the flavors that set it apart in the first place.

“The naturally shy and solitary nocturnal creatures suffer greatly from the stress of being caged in proximity to other luwaks, and the unnatural emphasis on coffee cherries in their diet causes other health problems too; they fight among them

Tony Wild, The Guardian

If this wasn’t enough, other, morally bankrupt charlatans have decided to employ different animals as glorified washing machines for coffee. Elephants (a bald-faced money grab, unironically sold as Black Ivory, brewed with a relentless passion), birds, monkeys, you name it

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Kopi Luwak Price

Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world at a cost of $25+ per cup or $100-600+ per pound.

kopi luwak price per pound

However, by purchasing Kopi Luwak you’ll be contributing to a cottage industry of animal abuse that serves no purpose, and even if you manage to get real Kopi Luwak, it won’t be the same flavor that “created the legend”—and even if it was, it’s nothing special by the standards of modern coffee.

If you want truly authentically harvested Kopi Luwak, it can cost up to a staggering $1000+ per pound! That’s oligarch money.

Is Kopi Luwak Good?

Wondering if Kopi Luwak is worth the money? Here’s a video from GQ of a rapper named 2 Chainz trying this gourmet coffee from cat poop from a $6000 Blossom brewer:

Does cat poop coffee live up to the hype?

When asked if he could tell the difference, 2 Chainz says, “hell no.” However, he did seem interested in buying one of those super-expensive brewers and grinders.

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You could conclude that Kopi Luwak is coffee for rich assholes, by assholes, but the truth far worse. These days, you’re much better off with coffee made by people who care about their product.

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Have you tried Kopi Luwak? Let us know if it’s good, and worth the price!