Civet Coffee     Kopi Luwak
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Kopi Luwak Three

Kopi Luwak Three

How To Buy Civet Coffee - The World’s Most Expensive Coffee

Civet Coffee Characteristics - Flavors, Aromas, and Coffee Quality 

Why Civet Coffee Lacks Bitterness

Why Civet Coffee Beans Are Only Lightly Roasted

Digesting the Coffee Beans - What Happens Inside the Civet’s Stomach?

Farmed Civet Coffee Compared To Wild-Collected Civet Coffee

Coffee Bean Varietals Used For Civet Coffee

Questions About Bacterial Contamination of Civet Coffee

What Is An Asian Palm Civet?

How To Buy Civet Coffee - The World’s Most Expensive Coffee

Civet Coffee is one of the rarest coffees on Earth, which is also why it is the most expensive. Though a price around $100 per pound is common, Civet coffee has sold on the world market for more than $600 per pound and has garnered as much as $100 per cup. In 2009, Motit Coffee harvested from the Motit (Philippine Civet) ranged from $300 per pound in the Philippines to $1400 per pound in the United States.

Civet Coffee is typically sold by weight, though it is also often sold by the cup in coffee houses in Southeast Asia. Most exported Civet coffee is sold in Japan and the United States while Europe and South Korea have a growing desire for the coffee.

Civet Coffee Characteristics - Flavors, Aromas, and Coffee Quality 

What is so special about Civet Coffee aside from the fact that the coffee beans come from the excrement the Asian Palm Civet and other species? Many people value Civet Coffee for its distinct flavor.

Civet Coffee is very full in the cup, full or heavy-bodied, sometimes almost syrupy and with a caramel taste and hints of chocolate. The coffee’s taste is complex, and the high aroma is strong and rich. 

Perhaps Civet Coffee’s most distinctive quality is the very low acidity and bitterness along with a pleasant sweetness that is followed by a clean and long, lingering aftertaste.

The high altitude Robusta coffee beans shade-grown in the Philippines at the Julia Campbell Agro-Forest Memorial Park and marketed as Bantai Civet Coffee are said to exhibit hints of spice, almond, and fruit. 

The Civet Coffee produced by Arengga in the Philippines and marketed as Liberica Gold comes from almond-shaped Liberica coffee beans and is known to exhibit a full and slightly earthy taste with a distinctive aroma with fruity and floral notes.

Sumatran Civet Coffee (Kopi Luwak) produced by the Trung Nguyen company in the Lampung province comes from Arabica Typica coffee beans set out into courtyards for Civets to forage upon during the day and then the Civets are kept in cages at night. The resulting coffee is said to be light bodied and bright with a persistent aftertaste. 

Other regional varieties of Civet Coffee exhibit different characteristic tastes.

Because Civet coffee is typically only given a light roast, the notable highlights of the gourmet coffee beans are able to shine through, including hints of chocolate. Smooth and aromatic, Civet coffee has a combination of unique, positive qualities that result in a very pleasant and enjoyable cup of coffee.

Why Civet Coffee Lacks Bitterness

Civet coffee is known for its distinct lack of bitterness. This almost total absence of bitterness in the Civet coffee beans is likely caused by proteolytic enzymes in the Civet’s digestive tract that seep into the porous coffee beans and cause chemical reactions that reduce the coffee’s bitterness.

Why Civet Coffee Beans Are Only Lightly Roasted

The pronounced natural lack of bitterness in Civet Coffee beans means that they only need to be just lightly roasted--usually only a Cinnamon Roast, sometimes medium--causing little or no sugar caramelization as occurs in darker roasts.

A primary goal of roasting coffee is to rid the beans of their bitterness, a quality that is present to some degree in most all coffee beans, some more than others. 

The downside of roasting coffee, however, is that the more the coffee beans are roasted the less you are able to taste their origin flavors--the special qualities of the beans that reflect where the coffee was grown including the soil and climate of the region as well as the genetics of the coffee plant. 

In the case of Civet coffee, the unique qualities of the bean’s origin flavors also include the flavor changes created in the digestive tract of the Civet. Light roasting preserves Civet coffee’s complex flavors including the origin flavors.

Digesting the Coffee Beans - What Happens Inside the Civet’s Stomach?

The unique flavors and aromas of Civet coffee are due to chemical process that take place in the Civet’s stomach. Proteolytic enzymes within the Civet’s digestive tract seep into the porous coffee beans creating more free amino acids in the beans as well as shorter peptides.

The coffee beans typically stays in the Civet’s digestive tract for about 1.5 days before being defecated. During this time the coffee beans actually begin to germinate by malting, reducing the coffee’s bitterness and also creating a unique taste. 

During roasting the proteins in the beans undergo a process known as Maillard browning.

When the coffee beans are finally evacuated from the Civet they typically come out in small clumps of coffee beans, many still partially covered by some fleshy pulp (mucilage) as well as the parchment covering. The Civet coffee beans are typically a bit darker a regular coffee bean, and also slightly brittle.

Farmed Civet Coffee Compared To Wild-Collected Civet Coffee

Wild-collected Civet coffee is gathered from Civet droppings near the coffee fields from Civets that are wild. In contrast, farmed Civet coffee is gathered from Civets that are either confined within the boundaries of the coffee fields or else kept in cages and fed coffee fruit. 

When Civets are allowed to choose what coffee cherry (fruit) they would like to eat off the coffee tree they have an outstanding ability to pick only the ripest fruits. Picking the ripe fruit results in a consistently high quality coffee bean.

When Civets are confined and fed coffee cherry that has been picked by humans, the coffee beans may not have the same consistent high quality. Farm-raised Civets are often fed cherry picked by farmers. While some farmers provide the Civets with a range of cherry so the Civets do indeed have some choice and the beans not chosen are then taken away. Other farmers mix the coffee beans with other food such as mashed banana to increase production and also ensure total consumption of whatever coffee fruits are fed to the Civets.

In general it is widely believed that wild-collected Civet Coffee is more likely to exhibit the distinct aroma and pleasant flavor profile of a fine Civet Coffee.

Coffee Bean Varietals Used For Civet Coffee

Most Civet Coffee is of the varietal Arabica (Coffea arabica var. arabica). Many Civet Coffee farms also produce Civet Coffee from the varietal Robusta (Coffea arabica var. Robusta) as well as Liberica (Coffea liberica).

In the Philippines where Civet Coffee is known as Kape Alamid it is typically produced using Arabica coffee beans as well as Liberica beans and also Excelsa coffee beans. This coffee is known for its smooth taste, high aroma, and low acidity as with most Civet Coffee, though Kape Alamid also has certain distinct characteristics creating a unique flavor profile.

Arabica coffee plants (Coffea arabica) are the most common type of coffee plant varietal used in Sumatra, the world’s largest producer of Civet coffee. These coffee plant varietals have been grown in Indonesia since the 1600s.

Kopi Luwak produced by the Trung Nguyen company in the Lampung province of Sumatra comes from Arabica Typica coffee beans. The beans are picked by farmers and then set out into open courtyards where Civets feed on them freely during the day and are then kept caged at night. The coffee from this farm is said to be bright and light-bodied, and exhibiting a very persistent aftertaste.

Questions About Bacterial Contamination of Civet Coffee

Some people express concern over the fact that civet coffee could potentially be contaminated by bacteria such as E Coli during its journey through the Civet’s digestive tract.

Most people who consume Civet coffee, however, believe that it is completely safe. Some studies have shown that the Civet’s stomach enzymes actually help in eliminating bacteria. 

When Civet coffee beans are processed they are typically washed thoroughly and then sun-dried. Also helping to rid the Civet coffee beans of any bacterial contamination is the fact that they are exposed to high temperatures during the roasting process.

What Is An Asian Palm Civet?

Many people compare Civets to weasels while others think that Civets are a type of cat since they are about the same size as a cat. In fact the Civet is not related to either the weasel or the cat but instead a nocturnal, long-tailed, tree-dwelling cousin of the mongoose.

Civets are native to Southeast Asia, southern China, southern India, and Sri Lanka.  One of the most common Civets utilized for Civet Coffee is Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, also known as the Asian Palm Civet. Some refer to it as Asian Palm Cat though it is not a cat. Palm Civets are most active from about six in the evening until four in the morning, and are less active on nights with bright moonlight.

Palm civets feed on a variety of berries and other pulpy fruits including the fruits of palm trees and ficus trees as well as mango, rambutan, chiku, and other fruit including coffee tree fruit. 

Nocturnal omnivores, Civets also feed on insects, seeds, ripe fruit, and vertebrates including small mammals. Civets like the sap of palm flowers. This sap is often fermented to make a sweet liquor called toddy, and this is why the Civet is often referred to as the “toddy cat.”

Asian Palm Civets weigh about 7 pounds (3 kg) and are about 21 inches (53 cm) long with a tail that may be about 19 inches (48 cm) long. The Civet’s fur (hair) is typically grayish in color, and somewhat coarse and shaggy. On the Civet’s muzzle, ears, and feet are black markings, and there are also three rows of black markings on the body of the Civet.

In Indonesia the Palm Civet is known as Luwak. In southern India in the state of Kerala the Asian Palm Civet is called Marapatti by the indigenous Malayalam people. Marapatti means “Wood Dog” or “Tree Dog.”

In the northern Philippines in the Gran Cordillera Central mountain range the Asian Palm Civet is known as Motit (in the Ilocano language), while in other areas of the Philippines the Civet is called either Alamid (in the Filipino language) or Musang. Philippines Civets inhabit mountain rainforest areas and are classified under the scientific genus and species name Paradoxorus Philippinensis, and considered an endangered species.

The Palm Civet is known as Tamil in Maranai and known as Uguduwa in Sinhala. 


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