Caging and Abuse Allegedly Increasing in Kopi Luwak Production

November 26, 2012 10:37 am

civet used in kopi luwak coffeeProducers of kopi luwak coffee, the $150-plus-per-pound Indonesian coffee harvested from the excretions of cat-like palm civets, are now in the sights of animal rights groups that are alleging abuse.

A report from the UK’s Guardian says representatives of the magazine recently visited a coffee shop in Sumatra in which an adult female civet was kept in a small back-room cage and separated from her two young offspring, while many other cages with unknown contents were kept behind the building.

Here’s more from the Guardian:

Animal welfare groups contend that growing numbers of such civet “farms” are emerging across south-east Asia, confining tens of thousands of animals to live in tiny cages and force-fed a debilitating diet. The Asian palm civet is common, but conservationists claim that related species are sometimes used which are under threat of extinction. The binturong, another cat-like species that is sometimes used to produce Kopi Luwak, is classed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list as “vulnerable”.

Animal rights issues aside, the increase in caged civets for coffee production could also be having a negative impact on Indonesia’s place in the specialty coffee market. According to a recent Jakarta Post report, the surge in worldwide demand for kopi luwak has resulted in an increase in “farmed” beans, with more than 60 percent of the 40 to 50 tons of the coffee produced annually coming from caged animals rather than wild animals.

“The condition of the luwak affects the taste and quality of the coffee. The caged luwak are often left starving and forced to digest both the unripe green berries and the finest ripe red ones,” Wirawan Tjahjadi, owner of the Bhineka Jaya coffee company in Indonesia, recently told the paper.

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