The Real Reason You May Want To Skip Kopi Luwak Coffee

Kopi Luwak coffee is one of the rarest and most expensive coffee varieties on Earth — all due to its processing method. Originating in Indonesia during the colonial period, the coffee was discovered by native farmers during a time when locals were not allowed to harvest their own beans, per Britannica. So, what did native Indonesians do? They collected the beans found within the excrements of wild Asian palm civets.

While it may sound strange, the natives are responsible for discovering what is now one of the most expensive specialty coffees you can get — going for $400 per pound (via Coffee Affection). As it turns out, the fermentation process of passing through the Asian palm civets' digestive systems increases the level of citric acid in the beans, making the coffee less acidic with a distinct and smooth flavor. But, besides the wild price tag, there's a concerning reason you may want to pass on Kopi Luwak coffee.

The truth behind Kopi Luwak coffee

According to National Geographic, Kopi Luwak coffee was once beneficial for the civets — they got to eat the coffee berries freely, and the local people no longer saw them as pests. But as Indonesian coffee and the civets became more popular outside of Indonesia, coffee producers began keeping the civets in cages — not only for coffee production, but for viewing by the millions of tourists that travel to Indonesia each year (via Statista).

Not only does the civet's confinement leave a gap in the natural food chain, but it also subjects the animals to grim living conditions. After assessments conducted by researchers from Oxford and the World Animal Protection non-profit in London were published in the journal "Animal Welfare" in 2016, the results showed that not a single Kopi Luwak coffee plantation passed basic animal welfare requirements, per Ingenta Connect.

Not only do these conditions hurt the animal's health, but Coffee Affection says they also compromise the quality of the coffee. And at $35 to $100 a cup (via Most Expensive Coffee), you should be getting your money's worth.