London – Some beans fetch more than £140 a pound and £310 a kilo, but there’s more to get over than the price when considering a cup of kopi luwak, or civet coffee, which is made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by Asian palm civets. A PETA Asia investigator who visited several civet coffee farms in Indonesia and the Philippines – two of the world’s largest producers of kopi luwak – documented that civets were confined to filthy, barren cages and suffered from skin infections.
Undercover video footage, narrated by actor Peter Egan, available here, shows how the civets also exhibit neurotic behaviour such as incessant pacing, spinning and head-bobbing – indications that the wild-caught animals are going insane from boredom and depression. Although it would be nearly impossible to sustain a viable enterprise by collecting the beans from civet faeces in the wild, some of the farms still advertise their beans as “wild-sourced”.
“Drinking coffee made from beans that were plucked from faeces isn’t the most unappetising aspect of civet coffee”, says PETA UK Associate Director Mimi Bekhechi. “Confining civet cats for years – as they go mad and lose their fur from the stress – for an expensive cup of Joe would turn the stomach of any compassionate person.”
In the wild, civets frequently climb trees to reach the ripe coffee berries, but in captivity, they are fed more of the fruit than would ever be natural for them. One farmer explained that civets are generally kept caged for around three years. Another farmer compared civets eating too many coffee berries to humans smoking, as the civets’ health deteriorates greatly during captivity because of a lack of vitamins and nutrition.