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Civet Coffee Production: How It Works and What It Costs

Civet Coffee Production, also known as kopi luwak, is a type of coffee that is made from coffee beans that have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm , a small nocturnal mammal that lives in the forests of Southeast Asia. The coffee beans are said to acquire a unique flavor and aroma from the digestive enzymes and fermentation process in the civet’s stomach and intestines. However, the production of civet coffee is not as simple and natural as it may seem. It involves various methods, actors, and impacts that affect the quality, price, and ethics of this coffee.

The Methods of Civet Coffee Production

There are two main methods of producing civet coffee: wild and caged. The wild method is the traditional and natural way of collecting the coffee beans from the civet’s feces in the forest. The civet cats are free to roam and choose the ripest and best coffee cherries to eat. The coffee beans are then cleaned, dried, roasted, and ground to make the coffee. The wild method is considered to produce the highest quality and most authentic civet coffee, as it reflects the civet’s natural selection and digestion. 

The caged method is the modern and industrial way of producing civet coffee. It involves capturing the civet cats from the wild and confining them in small cages or battery farms, where they are force-fed a diet of coffee cherries. The coffee beans are then collected from the civet’s feces in the cages, and processed in the same way as the wild method. The caged method is considered to produce the lowest quality and most fake civet coffee, as it compromises the civet’s natural behavior and digestion. 

The Actors of Civet Coffee Production

There are several actors involved, each with their own roles and interests. The main actors are:

  • The civet cats: They are the primary producers of civet coffee, as they provide the coffee beans with their unique flavor and aroma. They are also the most vulnerable and exploited actors, as they are often captured, caged, and abused for the sake of profit.
  • The farmers: They are the secondary producers of civet coffee, as they grow and harvest the coffee cherries that are fed to the civet cats. They are also the main beneficiaries of civet coffee production, as they earn a higher income from selling the coffee beans to the collectors or the traders.
  • The collectors: They are the intermediaries of civet coffee production, as they collect the coffee beans from the civet’s feces in the forest or in the cages. They are also the main facilitators of civet coffee production, as they transport and distribute the coffee beans to the traders or the roasters.
  • The traders: They are the marketers, as they buy and sell the coffee beans in the local or international markets. They are also the main influencers of civet coffee production, as they determine the price and demand of the coffee beans.
  • The roasters: They are the processors of civet coffee production, as they roast and grind the coffee beans to make the coffee powder or the coffee capsules. They are also the main enhancers of civet coffee production, as they improve the quality and taste of the coffee.
  • The consumers: They are the end-users as they drink and enjoy the coffee. They are also the main drivers of civet coffee production, as they create the demand and preference for the coffee.

The Impacts of Civet Coffee Production

The production of civet coffee has various impacts on different aspects and stakeholders. The main impacts are:

  • The economic impact: generates a significant income and employment for the farmers, the collectors, the traders, and the roasters, especially in Indonesia, the largest producer and exporter of civet coffee. also creates a lucrative market and niche for the consumers, especially in Japan, the United States, and Europe, the largest importers and consumers of civet coffee. 
  • The environmental impact: affects the ecological balance and biodiversity of the forest, especially in Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Sulawesi, the main islands where civet coffee is produced. contributes to the deforestation and habitat loss of the civet cats and other wildlife, as the coffee plantations expand and encroach on the forest. 
  • The ethical impact: raises serious ethical and animal welfare concerns, especially for the caged method of production. violates the rights and needs of the cats, as they are treated as commodities and machines rather than as living beings. 

Civet coffee production is a complex and controversial topic that involves various methods, actors, and impacts. It is not a simple matter of producing and consuming a certain type of coffee, but rather a matter of understanding and addressing the implications and consequences of producing and consuming this coffee, can be a source of income and enjoyment, but it can also be a source of harm and danger. The choice is ours to make.

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