Kopi luwak or "cat poop coffee" is made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted—yes, you read that right!—by the Asian palm civet or civet cat.
A new PETA investigation shows that in Indonesia—the world's top producer of kopi luwak—the industry captures civet cats in their natural habitat when they're about 6 months old or buys them at live-animal markets. The animals are confined to miserably small, filthy cages and fed an unhealthy, unnatural diet of primarily coffee berries. Then, the coffee beans that they excrete are harvested.
PETA's investigators found that the nocturnal animals were kept mostly in outdoor cages in the sunlight with no dark, quiet spot to sleep in during the day, adding to their misery and poor health. Many had painful open wounds for which they didn't appear to receive any medical care, and they exhibited abnormal behavior, such as biting their own tails and repeatedly pacing back and forth, indicating severe psychological distress.
In the wild, civet cats frequently climb trees to reach the coffee berries, but in captivity, they are fed more of the ripe fruit than they would ever eat naturally, leading to nutrient deficiencies. One farmer explained that civet cats are generally kept caged for a maximum of three years before they're released back into the wild and that the stress of confinement and lack of nutrition cause them to lose their fur. Another farmer compared civet cats eating too many coffee berries to humans smoking since the civet cats' health deteriorates greatly during captivity because of lack of vitamins and nutrition. The same farmer told PETA's investigator that some civet cats don't survive after they are released back into the wild.
This isn't the first time that this kind of cruelty has been discovered. In 2013, PETA investigated the appalling treatment of civets in Indonesia, finding the same shocking abuse.
Civet cats who are "lucky" enough to survive beyond their usefulness to the kopi luwak industry are sometimes sold to live-animal markets, putting them in direct contact with other species, including humans. This creates the perfect opportunity for SARS (which researchers found had jumped from civet cats to humans) or some other disease to be transmitted from one host to another.
Although kopi luwak is often advertised as "wild-sourced," a farmer told a PETA investigator that it would be nearly impossible to produce it exclusively from wild animals. Producers suggested deliberately mislabeling coffee from captive civet cats.
The mislabeled kopi luwak is exported and sold around the world, including throughout Asia, and can be found in cafés and coffee gardens in Bali, Indonesia, where unsuspecting tourists are duped into buying it and see the normally solitary civet cats in a setting that hides their cruel treatment.
Kopi luwak isn't a delicacy—it's a disgrace. No matter what country you're in or what assurances you've received, please don't purchase or drink it.
Take the pledge not to purchase kopi luwak, regardless of its "certification."