4 Reasons Why Kopi Luwak Isn't Worth Your Money

4 Reasons Why Kopi Luwak Isn’t Worth Your Money

When people talk of specialty coffee, they often mention Kopi Luwak as being the highest of the tiers, the rarest and most expensive coffee on the market. In case you haven’t heard of this ridiculous coffee trend, it’s basically coffee that’s been eaten and pooped out by a small animal. More specifically, the Asian Palm Civet, a small, cat-like creature native to Southeast Asia. The Civet eats the coffee cherry, digests it and excretes the coffee, whereupon it is collected, roasted and sold for ridiculous amounts of money. That’s right, people actually PAY for poop coffee. And not only do they pay, but they pay a lot. And with the rise in this ridiculous trend came the cleverly marketed illusion of deliciously special coffee. Well, we are about to tell you why it’s anything but.

  1. Coffee that has been pooped out is not delicious.

You’d be hard pressed to convince anyone that consuming something that has passed through the digestive channel of another living thing would taste good. But there are two supposed reasons that the Civet excrement coffee bean tastes better than regular coffee. The first being that the Civet knows how to choose the best beans to eat. This sounds like a vaguely feasible reason – to anyone with no knowledge of coffee. Among a crop of coffee there’s generally only a small percentage of cherries that contain “bad” beans. So for a Civet to choose the “good” beans is not a skill, it’s purely a statistical chance…

The second, because fermentation that occurs inside the digestive tract improves the taste of the beans. The Speciality Coffee Association of America cupped the Luwak beans, and found that they scored two points below the lowest of the other three coffees. “It would appear that the Luwak processing diminishes good acidity and flavour, and adds smoothness to the body, which is what many people seem to note as a positive to the coffee.” In fact this “smoothness” is actually a dulling of the important and delicate flavour balance that naturally occurs in coffee. It’s almost like they have already been used, OH, that’s right, they have already been used…

2. Who would pay that much?

Sure, if you’re a top of the market product then you can definitely get away with charging a premium price. On one website selling to Australia I found Kopi Luwak ranging in price from $149 – $288 per 100g. Per ONE HUNDRED GRAMS. That’s $1490 – $2800 a kilo. What the heck. You would have to be insane to spend that much on coffee, even specialty coffee.

3. Animal cruelty is a sad reality of the industry.

While we would like to think of these fluffy creatures roaming free in the trees and eating as many coffee cherries as their little hearts desire, before settling down to sleep and popping out a pile of very expensive poop, that’s sadly not the case. The rise in popularity of Kopi Luwak has meant that most of the coffee is processed in places compared to battery chicken farms.

“The civets are taken from the wild and have to endure horrific conditions. They fight to stay together but they are separated and have to bear a very poor diet in very small cages.” Chris Shepard

This poor treatment of the animal has caused a high mortality rate and a rapidly increasing conservation risk. Yet another industry exploiting defenceless animals for financial gain.

4. Everything that glitters is not gold.

What’s to stop any mildly savvy, very cheeky, entrepreneur from selling whatever coffee he can get his hands on as Kopi Luwak… After all, if the taste isn’t quite so incredible as they are making out to be, then who would really know the difference? An estimate states that only around 500 to 700kg of the genuine product is produced annually, with MUCH more being sold, which doesn’t quite add up.

So essentially Kopi Luwak is average tasting coffee, with a crazy expensive price point, produced in conditions that are harmful to the poor animals. Also it might be fake. Think twice before you let that charming street vendor in South East Asia sell you “the best coffee in the world.”

If you’re looking for some truly unique and delicious coffee with a story, just try our Colombian Wild Grown Specialty Coffee. It’s grown in the wild Colombian rainforest by the Indigenous Kogi people, who have been there for centuries, tastes amazing and has NOT been pooped out by a small animal.

Photo via Travel Genes.

Ryadan Jeavons

by Ryadan Jeavons

Ryd is a passionate coffee educator who started his career in 2000 as a barista. Having seen the coffee industry develop over the years and how much there is to learn about coffee still, his personal mission has become a role as the conduit between the industry and the consumer. He is passionate about educating the public on all the wonderful things we are learning about this golden liquid drink.

24 comments on "4 Reasons Why Kopi Luwak Isn’t Worth Your Money"

  1. I think kopi luwak is worth it bruh…
    I live inIndonesia, and i like to drink it
    Its expensive but very nice

  2. xxx says:

    lol you mocking other coffee for selling your product how hilarious you are😅 if you want to selling your product do it without mocking any other kind of coffee dude😂 i think there’s a story and reason behind every tasted of coffee, and if it’s not good then why every people want to buy it even if it highest price tho

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      Heya Auliasugito1!

      I hear what you are saying but we aren’t mocking it, we are pointing out that it’s not worth the money due to the low quality of the drink. In the beginning, the Civet was allowed to freely choose which cherries it would digest but these days they are being forced-fed and so beyond the cruelty that is happening, the quality has dropped because we don’t understand why the Civet chooses certain cherries.

  3. Rene says:

    Horrible cruel practice. In the wild, coffee cherries were only one part of the civet’s diet. Now they are forced to eat only coffee and as a result suffer from nutrient deficiencies – in Bali I saw rescued civets that had gone blind from the forced diet 🙁

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      Absolutely right Rene! I’m glad you mentioned the dietary repercussions as that was something I was unaware of. I’d love to hear more about your story of recusing the poor civets. If you wanted to tell your story to us please email me on ryd(AT)coffeebeansdelivered(DOT)com(DOT)au

  4. Ali Gibbs says:

    Thanks for highlighting this product. I haven’t tasted this coffee so I can’t comment on flavour. Price? Well, create enough hype and you can sell anything. You just have to make it sound rare and special and you’ll always have people willing to pay for it. The mention of cruelty to the animals involved in this process would mean that I don’t care how good the resulting coffee tastes, there’s no way I’d ever want to try it. It reminds me of what ducks and geese have to go through for foie gras to be made.

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      You’re absolutely right Ali! It’s a disgusting side effect of the demand and in the case of the Foie Gras, the flavours that people are demanding. No animal should have to suffer like that.

  5. Tim Kerr-Thomson says:

    Your arguments against the coffee are primarily subjective and personal opinions. The coffee is expensive but it is very labour intensive, more so than normal coffee, and the price is reflected in this. As a regular traveller to Indonesia, the coffee is expensive when compared to others, but nothing like the prices you mention. If those prices are correct it is the importers/exporters that are charging the excessive prices not the locals. The criticism that the coffee has been through the digestive system of an animal seems to forget we drink the juices from a lactating cow, commonly referred to as milk. No doubt there may be some who mistreat the animals, however, I have not seen it. The coffee does have a smooth flavour and is popular for that reason. If the coffee elite don’t like that then it could be argued who is the more correct. The millions who like the drink or the hundred judges who don’t. My personal opinion is that I like the drink, but I am just one of the millions whose opinion apparently doesn’t count.

  6. Paul lahaye says:

    Iv visited Bali on two occasions and drank luwak coffee and for me it is the best,if you want a kick this stuff delivers,Starbucks should sell it other then the crap they serve,I for one think it’s the best

  7. Rob Ashton says:

    Thank you for highlighting the animal rights issues involved in the sale of Kopi Luwak. Much like Foie Gras, where there’s a profit people are willing to cut-corners and subject animals to horrendous conditions. There are still many places, however, where you can try and buy Kopi Luwak for normal coffee prices (-$2-3 per cup). If you go to the magical village of Senaru in Lombok (Indonesia, neighbouring island to Bali), you can visit the small (locally owned) coffee gardens in the jungle. There you can see the locals gathering Kopi Luwak from the jungle floor and using it for themselves. They also harvest fresh vanilla, amongst other things. Although they don’t advertise it as a coffee tour, I visited this amazing place with Rinjani Dawn Adventures (www.rinjanidawnadventures.com) last year and loved it.

  8. Em J says:

    Completely agree with Tim, your first point threw me off as it was extremely biased, but I continued through the article hoping you’d state more objectively based arguments- which you did. Unfortunately when there is supply and demand of animal related products, forms of animal exploitation would be unavoidable and there isnt a proper easy solution for this 🙁 I’ve tried my fair share of the coffee and I have to say there is a difference in the smoothness, bitterness and aftertaste and I’d still be happy to pay more to drink it in the future. All in all it just hangs on personal preference 🙂

  9. Sara says:

    Pretty funny how the writer isn’t replying to anyone arguing against him! He knows his argument doesn’t stand, it’s obviously written with his personal bias bursting at the seams. I’ve been living in a small Indonesian town for awhile and one of the families here has a small coffee farm where Luwaks come in on their own free will and eat the cherries. They sell the coffee for $2 / cup. Maybe you should get your head out of your butthole and do a little more research? “Coffee elite”

  10. Steve Wotherspoon says:

    Would you object if you knew the animals were free range? Of course you would. Luwak is the king of the coffee and has been for decades.

  11. Marti says:

    I had this Kopi Luak Coffee 2days ago in Ubud (Bali) next to the Monkey Forest and taste like the normal Balinese coffee. I paid about 3 GBP for it for a tiny bit of coffee. That coffee is definitely over priced and over rated too. Not worth it.

  12. Boroma says:

    I found this article searching for ways to process the small amount of coffee that I am about the get from an arabica tree I planted a in a large pot couple of years ago.
    I want to remove the pulp leaving the kernel to be dried and become parchment coffee.
    Now if I had a civet I could feed the ripe beans to it, collect the poo, wash and dry it and then roast it.
    Lacking a civet (not common in Oz and the RSPCA would probably object if I found one) I could ferment the beans with water, bakers yeast (for Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and kimchi (for Lactobacillus brevis). Has anyone tried this?
    In a perfect world there would be a culture available that would mimic the inside a a civet but I cannot seem to find anything.

  13. Baboy says:

    Still harvesting ripe coffee beans (10) from my tree.
    With a small number of ripe beans it has been practical to “pop” the beans from the fruit with a light squeeze, then soak the skins and beans in water for 24 hours.
    When dry they look just like green beans.
    Still not enough for a cup of coffee.

  14. Andy Robins says:

    I want to know what sick individual thought of doing this in the first place.

  15. keith says:

    l think l will ingest some koppi beans and collect them out of my poo, wash them in spring water, dry them in the sun then roast em. now that be really good koppi , as I know where its bean.

  16. David says:

    If. You ask me, you can make your own coffee Luwak. Just take an ordinary teaspoon of Nescafe…add another teaspoon of ordinary dirt and there you go. Tastes exactly the same.

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:


  17. dilip says:

    you could make some money too if u sell that coffee from your poo

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