Perhaps you’ve been visiting your favorite gourmet shops online and have been reading about the Civet coffee craze. It is being marketed as one of the most amazingly full-bodied, but smooth beans and that once you’ve tried just one cup, you’ll be sold for life. It’s said to be just that good and so much better than any gourmet bean you’ve ever ground freshly. Is this true? The only way to know for sure is to try it but before you do, you may want to know a little about exactly how the Kopi Luwak coffee beans are grown and harvested. That, in itself, is enough to tempt even the most discerning of coffee lovers to give it a try. Are you ready for an adventure? If so, buckle up and let’s take a ride into what just might be one of life’s true wonders!
What in the World Is a Civet?
If you are just being introduced to civet coffee, you may be wondering what in the world is a civet. Actually, a civet is a cat that is native to Southeast Asia and amazingly, is responsible for the unique and unequalled flavor of Kopi Luwak coffee beans. Before getting into just how these civets are responsible for the flavor of civet coffee, it’s probably better to start with a little history so you can understand just how this particular bean was first experienced and to this day is how civet coffee is made.
Way Back to the Dutch Colonization of Indonesia
As history tells us, the Dutch colonized Indonesia and during that time set up lucrative coffee plantations. The natives worked those plantations for the rich overlords but were forbidden to drink the beans plucked from the cherries. They were allowed to forage for beans that had fallen to the ground, and this is where a bit of oddity comes into the picture. The natives noticed that the Civet cats thrived on the rich coffee cherries, but they didn’t digest the beans. They began gathering the coffee beans, washing them, sun drying them and then when completely dried and baked in the hot sun were ground into some of the best coffee the world has ever known. As fate would have it, this is how the often-mistreated servants were awarded the cream of the crop – the best tasting coffee of all. It would be interesting to learn just when the Dutch overlords discovered that they had inadvertently given over the best beans to the field hands.
Ethical Treatment of the Civet Cats
One thing you will want to ascertain before investing in these amazingly delicious coffee beans is the treatment of the civet cats that make these beans possible. Yes, they are ‘eaten’ by the civets but not digested. It is only the soft fruit of the cherries that the Civets are eating and the coffee beans are then washed, sun dried and sanitized in both traditional and modern methods to ensure safe products going to market. However, it’s the civets in question at this point. So many less than ethical plantation owners keep the civets in cages, only letting them out to eat the cherries then returning them to confinement. Ethical plantation owners have free range civets that are allowed to roam the entire plantations. Before spending money with a less-than-ethical grower, investigate how the civet cats are cared for. They are, after all, responsible for the enzyme that gives this amazing coffee its flavor.
So, the civet coffee craze is steeped in history and the ethical treatment of the civets responsible for giving coffee lovers some of the world’s finest beans.