- Characteristics of Civet Coffee
- How does Civet Coffee Taste?
- Where is Civet Coffee Grown?
- How Civet Coffee is Produced?
- Is Civet Coffee really cat poop?
- Where is Civet Coffee Popular
- Kape Alamid From the Philippines
- Sumatra Civet Coffee
- Natural Selection By Civets Provides Premium Beans
- Enzymatic Changes In the Civet’s Digestive Tract
- Scientific Classification of Coffee Producing Civets
- Other Animals That Provide Pre-Digested Coffee Beans
- Civet Coffee Bean Varietals
- The Price of Civet Coffee
- Where is Civet Coffee found?
- More Kopi-Luwak / Civet Coffee Information
- Other Premium Coffee Beans
Characteristics of Civet Coffee
The unique tastes and aromas of Civet coffee are likely the reason the coffee has gained such a wide popularity despite the initial off-putting knowledge that the coffee has previously been expelled from the anus of a small mammal called the Civet and then the excrement gathered up and prepared for your cup. That’s right: pooh to brew! Civet coffee known for its high aroma (in this case, he whole smelt it dealt it and should be proud), 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.
How does Civet Coffee Taste?
A good Civet coffee is full-bodied, quite heavy and full in the cup, and perhaps even a bit syrupy. Civet coffee has a pleasant sweetness that may reveal hints of chocolate and a subtle caramel taste. 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. This light roasting also reveals rich and strong aromatics. The high aroma can be thought of as priming the taste sensors and the complex flavors give way to a lingering finish, a long, clean ftertaste.
Civet coffee from different regions and made from differing coffee plant varietals will reveal distinctly different qualities, although the common factor is usually the coffee’s naturally low bitterness which is why it only requires a light roast. A fine Civet coffee lightly roasted is allowed to exhibit its origin flavors and premium gourmet qualities which shine through since they are not masked by roasting tastes as with darker roasts.
Civet coffees from different regions have their own distinct tastes and aromas. There are also variations depending upon whether it is wild Civet coffee (in which the Civets are allowed to choose which coffee cherry they eat), or Civet coffee produced in some other way. For example,
- the shade-grown Bantai Civet Coffee farmed as part of the Civet Conservation Project using Robusta coffee beans grown at a high altitude in the Philippines and known to reveal fruit flavors as well as almond and spicy notes.
- the slightly earthy flavors revealed by Arengga Civet coffee farmed in the Philippines and sold as Liberica Gold. This Civet coffee utilizes almond-shaped Liberica coffee beans and is also known for its floral and fruity tones as well as its distinct aroma.
- the Sumatran Civet coffee known as Kopi Luwak that is produced in the Lampung province by the Trung Nguyen company is known to be quite bright and with a light body as well as a persistent finish.
- the Trung Nguyen Civet coffee is produced by allowing the Civets to forage in open courtyards during the day to eat coffee cherry that have already been picked and placed out for feeding the Civets. Then at night the Civets are kept caged.
Some Civet coffee farmers will mix the coffee beans with banana mash before feeding the mix to the Civets with the goal of increasing the fermented end product. The result is a smooth, aromatic, and very pleasant tasting cup of brewed coffee that often reveals hints of chocolate and other nuanced flavors. The mellow brew is also said to reveal distinct nutty and oaky flavors not present in other coffees.
Where is Civet Coffee Grown?
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. Marapatti in english is the Palm Civet.
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. The Asian Palm Civet produces a unique coffee by eating the ripest beans (in the case of wild Civet coffee) and then marinating those beans in its digestive tract before expelling them onto the forest floor. A quick wash, sun-drying, and light roasting and the beans are ready to go!
Is Civet Coffee really cat poop?
The civet isn’t actually a cat, but does look similar to one. The coffee beans are indeed pooped out by the animal, which eats the fruit that surrounds the coffee beans. The beans aren’t digestible however and come out mostly whole, and are then picked out by farmers and foragers, cleaned and sold.
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. Civet coffee has developed a reputation in places like the United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia for its price and its novelty.
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.
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), though there are small quantities of Robusta and Liberica in some parts of the world. Some Sumatra civet coffee farms produce wild civet coffee while others produce farmed civet coffee by constraining the civets within defined boundaries.
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 sometimes available.
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.
Where is Civet Coffee found?
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 Kopi-Luwak / Civet Coffee Information
- 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
- Jacu Bird Coffee
At such a high cost per pound (and cost per cup) you’ll want to get all the information you can to brew the perfect cup of coffee – see our section on Brewing Civet Coffee and also our tips for Coffee Brewing in general.