I admit it, I’m a cat person and proud of it. I adore the little furballs and heap extensive amounts of love and attention on my two. But do I love them enough to dig around in their box for my daily caffeine high? Not very likely.
Admittedly, Malaysian and Indonesian civet “cats” are not your average run-of-the-mill house cats that curl up on your hearth and tangle underfoot whenever they hear a can opener. These jungle mammals are only “cat-sized” and have an express preference for snacking on exotic fruits like chiku, mango, and rambutan.
They are also the source for a … unique kind of coffee known as kopi luwak. According to Animal Coffee,
Kopi luwak is a unique gourmet coffee that is ‘processed’ in the stomach of a wild animal, after which it is hand collected from the floor of the Sumatran jungle.
Sounds rather nice when they put it like that, doesn’t it? “Collected on the floor of the Sumatran jungle” makes it seem downright delectable and exotic. However, I prefer Boing Boing’s more forthright description: “coffee beans excreted out of a rare Indonesian mammal’s ass.”
Boing Boing points the way to a promotional piece on Sally’s Place that explains the whole process in what is probably supposed to be drool-worthy detail, and also includes a quote from M. P. Mountanos, the first coffee importer to bring the beans to the U.S., who gushes, “It’s the most complex coffee I’ve ever tasted.” The same Mountanos also announced that Starbucks bought the savory beans “for cuppings within the company.”
There are so many things about this brew that disturb me. Aside from the expected retchings when imagining a big steaming cup of well, that, one is that the picture included with the aforementioned Sally’s Place piece ensures I’ll never look at a PayDay the same way again. The other is a quoted comment from a Boing Boing reader who suggests animal cruelty could be involved in the “processing” of the coffee beans.
BB reader Pauric O’Callaghan says, by purchasing catbuttcoffee you may be supporting animal cruelty. As foie gras is to geese, so is Kopi Luwak to civets:
‘Due to the high prices, some of the supply now comes from force-fed animals. The images shown of the solid poops consisting of nothing but coffee beans are an example of this. Traditionally natives fished through the monkey poop for individual beans. The monkey poop does fall to the ground in single solid bean rich movements.’
Well, that’s enough to put me right off the idea—you won’t find me starting my morning right with a mug of cat butt coffee.