Civet Coffee

Characteristics of Civet Coffee

Civet coffee known for its high aroma, smooth taste, and low acidity – often quite sweet and very full in the cup – civet coffee is made with coffee beans that are retrieved from the excretion of an animal called the civet.

Civet Coffee Producing Regions

Civet coffee is produced in various countries including the Philippines, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, and East Timor. In Indonesia civet coffee is known as Kopi Luwak and in the Philippines it is called Kape Alamid.

How Civet Coffee is Produced

The coffee beans pass through the civet’s digestive tract where the outer fruit is mostly digested, and then the beans are then defecated onto the ground. Coffee farmers then collect the coffee beans and usually wash and sun-dry them.

Natural Lack of Bitterness Requires Only Light Roasting

One of the most pronounced characteristics of civet coffee beans is their natural lack of bitterness, so they are only lightly roasted to preserve their complex flavors.

Where is Civet Coffee Popular

Civet coffee produced in the Philippines is known as Kape Alamid (in Tagalog regions) and Motit Coffee (in the Cordillera). Civet  coffee is popular in coffeehouses in Vietnam where there is even a market for simulated civet coffee.

Kape Alamid From the Philippines

One civet coffee found in the Philippines and other locations is called Kape Alamid (Tagalog translation of civet coffee) and is produced using Arabica (Coffea arabica var. arabica) as well as Liberica (Coffea liberica) and Excelsa beans.

While this coffee does have the typical characteristics of civet coffee  – high aroma, smooth taste, low acidity – it also has other distinct characteristics that create a unique flavor profile.

Sumatra Civet Coffee

The largest regional producer of civet coffee is Sumatra, where the coffee plants are mostly the Arabica varietal (Coffea arabica var. arabica). Some Sumatra civet coffee farms produce wild civet coffee while others produce farmed civet coffee by constraining the civets within defined boundaries.

Natural Selection By Civets Provides Premium Beans

The civet’s unique ability to select only perfectly ripe coffee cherry (fruit) to feed upon helps to ensure a consistent high quality of coffee beans.

This natural selection process for the best quality coffee beans is one of the reasons why wild-collected civet coffee has such a smooth flavor profile and aroma which may not be the same with farm-raised civets that are fed coffee beans picked by farmers.

Enzymatic Changes In the Civet’s Digestive Tract

When the civet eats the coffee cherry, the fruit is mostly digested in the civet’s stomach, but the seed inside (the coffee bean) is not. Research has shown that enzymes in the civet’s digestive tract cause certain chemical processes to occur on the coffee beans’ surface and also within the porous coffee beans.

Specific proteins that normally give coffee a bitter taste are broken down by the enzymes, resulting in a less bitter coffee and allowing the coffee’s notable highlights to shine through when the coffee is given a light roast.

While some people are concerned about civet coffee’s potential bacterial contaminants (e.g., E Coli), others claim that civet coffee is perfectly safe because the civet’s stomach enzymes help to eliminate the bacteria, as does the washing, sun-drying, and the high temperature of the roasting.

Scientific Classification of Coffee Producing Civets

Civets are classified as Paradoxorus Philippinensis (an endangered species) in the Philippines, but in Sumatra they are in the family Viverridae.

The civet has been compared to animals in the cat family and also the weasel family, though it is not related to either. One of the most numerous types of civets on civet coffee farms is the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

Other Animals That Provide Pre-Digested Coffee Beans

Civets aren’t the only animals that are utilized for their coffee bean processing abilities. Defecated coffee beans are also gathered up from the feces of wild Muntjac (barking deer) in Indonesia and Malaysia – this coffee is known as Kopi Muncak (or Kopi Muntjak).

Civet Coffee Bean Varietals

Civet coffee is usually sold by weight. The most common type of civet coffee bean is the Arabica varietal (Coffea arabica var. arabica), but Robusta (Coffea canephora var. robusta) and Liberica (Coffea liberica) are also produced.

The Liberica coffee plant species is considered endangered in the Philippines, as is the Philippine civet (Paradoxorus Philippinensis), so the Philippine government along with private foundations have encouraged initiatives that preserve both the coffee plant species and the animal in the region.

The Price of Civet Coffee

Civet Coffee is one of the world’s rarest coffees, as well as the most expensive, selling for up to $600 per pound on the world coffee market. Civet coffee is also sold by the cup in many coffeehouses in Southeast Asia.

Civet Coffees from Around the Globe

Civet Coffee is produced by various countries including:

Vietnam Civet Coffee;

Indonesian Civet Coffee;

and Philippine Civet Coffee (including Bantai Civet Coffee and Arengga Civet Coffee).

More Informative Civet Coffee Information:

Civet Coffee Body, Flavors, and Aromatic Qualities;

Civet Coffee From Tree to Cup;

Civet Coffee – Buying the World’s Most Expensive Coffee;

Civet Coffee FAQ;

The Asian Palm Civet;

Civet Coffee – What Happens to the Bean in the Civet’s Stomach;

and Jacu Bird Coffee.

For a bit of levity see Adventures of a Civet Coffee Hunter and Top Ten Reasons To Drink Animal-Processed Coffee!

Also see Simulated Civet Coffee, and Beware of Fake Civet Coffee.

Discovering Gourmet Coffees from Around the Globe

To brew the perfect cup of coffee see our section on Brewing Civet Coffee and also our tips for Coffee Brewing in general.

The Espresso Coffee Guide also provides detailed coffee taste profiles of all the best gourmet coffees from around the world.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Bekele Tsegaye Degefa February 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

Dear Sir/ Madam! Please could you help me to link with any one of civet coffee market centre or person? Civet coffee from African civet is collected by farmers in Ethiopia but they have no access to market. Please help them. Thank you in advance.

Bekele Tsegaye Degefa February 3, 2012 at 11:26 am

I am PhD candidate currentlystarting my research on captive African civet in the handes of farmers to extract civet musk which useful as a fixative for perfume Industries. The farmers also collect civet coffee (Coffee arabica origin in Ethiopia) from the wild. But the farmers have no access to market for both the civet coffee and civet musk. But the middle men are getting advantage than the farmers in case of civet musk. For the civet coffee they have no access to market. this is information I have got from the farmers as I started my research recently.
Thus please help them in supplying addresses of companies . Thank you in advance.

Lennon Lim June 22, 2012 at 8:31 am

Anybody wanna to buy Kopi Luwak 100% Pure Wild & Orgranic Civet Coffee – My monthly ex-stock on hand about 50Kg – 100Kg (RM800 / KG)
1) June 2012 Ex-Stock only got 400gm
2) July 2012 (Kindly call us)
Cosey Management Services (Sungai Ara, Penang)
H/P: +6016-4466816 Tel/Fax : +6016-4466816

John December 19, 2012 at 10:08 am

Hi we are selling Weasel Kopi Luwak for whole Europe.

John December 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

If somone will be intrested here you have a link to our web page

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