From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010
DENPASAR, HANOI–Just seven years after
China banned civet farming because of the
association of civet consumption with more than
800 human deaths from Sudden Acute Respiratory
Syndrome, a vogue for pricy civet coffee has
brought the industry back perhaps bigger than
ever–and certainly in many more places.
Sold to coffee snobs as kopi luwak, the
Indonesian word for it, civet coffee is brewed
from the beans that civets excrete after eating
coffee berries, one of their favorite foods.
Civet coffee is by reputation stronger and
usually more aromatic than most coffees.
Collecting and salvaging the excreted
beans from wild civets is so laborious that civet
coffee, known for centuries, has historically
been so costly to produce as to be consumed only
in small amounts by the very rich and jaded. But
civet farming in coffee-growing country has
brought civet coffee within occasionally reach of
the merely affluent–at prices of from $50 to
$100 a cup.