Coffee beans collected from the excrement of civets. I, as many others, first heard of Kopi Luwak from Hollywood movie ‘The Bucket List’. At the time dubbed the World’s Most Expensive Coffee. Not long after I was amazed to find Kopi Luwak sold across Southeast Asia for next to nothing. My most recent run-in in Bali where it is found everywhere. So called ‘Agro-Tourism’. Coffee plantation tours pushed by taxi tour touts. Advertisements on roadside billboards. Coffee beans sold at every tourist market. But surprisingly Kopi Luwak is rarely found in hotels, coffee shops or restaurants in Bali. It may have been the World’s Most Expensive Coffee but it is certainly not the most popular. Its price only reflecting exclusivity. High demand, low supply. The process of finding and collecting the beans creating the value. This is how the market should have stayed. Now with the ugly practices of intensive farming and enzyme manufactured weasel coffee this novelty coffee is left with a bad taste.
Local opportunists cash in on Kopi Luwak as coffee plantations pop up throughout the region. Now civets are traded, caged and force fed coffee berries. Like an Asian Foie Gras. The beans are then sold and plantations pushed as tourist attractions. Of course the civets on show to tourists are better off than those hidden in the background. I had no interest in visiting a plantation. Others with us did and returned with depressing knowledge of the situation.
A slightly more ethical coffee. In Vietnam Weasel Coffee is made with an ‘enzyme soak’ which replicates the digestive process of civets without the need of the civet itself. If planning to pick up civet coffee in Southeast Asia this maybe the best option. Not only is it ethical but it is also cheap. 63,000 Dong per 100 Grams ($30 / Kilo). Cheaper again with haggling. Quite a bit less than $3000 / Kilo the price of weasel coffee at its highest. Below is a weasel coffee stall at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.