Cut the crappuccino
Monkeys, elephants, Brazilian jacu birds and civets are amongst the animals that have been employed to eat coffee beans, with their digestive enzymes denaturing the beans and altering the final taste.
Civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak as it’s known in Indonesia, is one of the world’s most expensive drinks, selling for up to $100 per cup. It’s made from coffee beans, which have been partially digested and then excreted by small cat-like mammals known as civets. According to coffee connoisseurs, this unusual production method is what gives the coffee its uniquely smooth taste. But is it cruel or unethical?
The BBC have carried out a special investigation into the animal welfare concerns associated with civet coffee, featuring World Society for the Protection of Animal (WSPA) wildlife expert Neil D’Cruze.
The investigation reveals that, in parts of South East Asia, civets are cruelly captured from the wild, using methods that include box traps and snares. Many are sold directly to commercial civet farm owners, whilst others await their fate in noisy, bustling, wildlife markets.
Despite a long history of cage-free civet coffee – a method believed to produce the most superior tasting civet coffee – evidence suggests that the number of civet farms has increased to meet the growing global demand.
A variety of different civet species are used to produce civet coffee, including the Binturong, which is classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list (IUCN) and other species such as the Asian palm civet, which are more widespread. It’s likely that farmed civet coffee production is contributing to the extinction of local populations.
What is WSPA doing?
- Urging retailers to source cage-free civet coffee and remove inhumane products from their shelves.
- Calling for the introduction of an accredited certification scheme as a standard for humane cage-free coffee.
- Calling on governments of civet-coffee-producing countries to take steps towards ending caged production.
What can you do?
- Find out more about the issue in The true cost of the world’s most expensive coffee.
- Read the BBC report.
- Don’t buy civet coffee unless you can guarantee it is from a 100% cage-free source.
- Learn more about civets by reading One minute to get up to speed on civets.
- Learn more about the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Find out how to be an animal-friendly traveller.
- Support terrific animal welfare organisations like WSPA through The Intrepid Foundation.
Photo © Paul Williams