Kopi Luwak coffee: an introduction to the world’s most exclusive brew
Kopi Luwak coffee, also known as civet coffee, Luwak Kopi, civet cat coffee and occasionally, by the glamorous title of ‘cat poo coffee’, is often considered the most luxurious coffee in the world.
Traditionally from Indonesia, Kopi Luwak translates as coffee (Kopi) and civet (Luwak), which are small catlike animals that pick, eat, partially digest and excrete the cherries used to make this bean. This highly unusual process has unsurprisingly caught the attention of coffee drinkers globally, making it one of the most talked-about coffees in history.
From its exquisite taste and aroma to top tips for brewing this bean, you’ll find everything you need to know about Kopi Luwak - the most unique coffee we sell at Coffee Direct, below.
The java jargon decoder
Here are a few terms that may come in handy as we explore the world of the civet brew.
- Under-extracted - When you don’t dissolve enough desirable particles into your drink, resulting in a weak, sour or astringent taste.
- Over-extracted - When you extract too many soluble particles, leaving you with a bitter-tasting brew.
- Grind size - The size of particles once you’ve ground your coffee. The scale ranges from extra coarse to very fine. Unfortunately, there’s no universal setting for grind size, so a quick Google image search will help you determine if you’ve sized your grounds right.
- Ratio - The amount of grounds used vs the amount of water used.
A little bit of history...
The story of 'cat poop coffee' begins in 19-century colonial Indonesia. Forbidden by the Dutch to harvest their own coffee, local farm workers discovered a native animal (the civet) was leaving partially digested beans on the floor of surrounding coffee plantations and forests. After these coffee beans had been cleaned, processed and roasted, the locals made an exciting discovery. They realised that the beans which had been excreted by these small creatures, were superior in taste when compared to regular coffee.
Originally this type of coffee was produced in Indonesia (namely Sumatra, Bali, Jakarta and East Timor). However, to meet growing international demand, on today’s market you’ll also find roasts originating from Vietnam, The Philippines, Thailand and Ethiopia.
How is Kopi Luwak coffee made?
The reason civet coffee is so notorious is due to the way its beans are produced and the role of the cherry-eating civet in this process.
With regular coffee, cherries are hand or machine picked then processed, with producers using either natural, washed or hybrid methods to separate coffee beans from their flesh. Beans are then dried, rested and roasted.
Kopi coffee follows a very different journey, beginning with the Asian palm civet. These small nocturnal animals are mainly frugivores, with a diet consisting mostly of fruit, including coffee cherries. The animals eat the berries, which are then digested, fermented and excreted. The inner red coffee beans cannot be digested, so local farmers forage for these and once collected, thoroughly clean them before roasting at high temperatures.
Why is Kopi Luwak so expensive?
The exceptionally high price of Kopi Luwak is another widely known feature of this unusual coffee. Coffee lovers can pay up to £80 for a single cup, which is more than twenty times more expensive than a regular cup of joe! If opting for the most expensive wild Kopi Luwak sources, that price can shoot up to as much as £1000 per pound of coffee.
There are two main reasons why civet coffee is more expensive than regular coffee - its process and its signature taste.
Regarding the process, respectable coffee producers such as Coffee Direct will only source beans from civets living in natural conditions. That means foraging for the semi-digested beans is a laborious task that takes much longer than simply picking berries from a plant. Beans are harder to find, and farmers spend much of their time tracking down the movement of wild civets.
Then there is the subject of the taste of Kopi Luwak, which many consider to be the most superior in the world. A number of factors contribute to this extraordinary taste. Firstly, the civet picks the tastiest, sweetest wild coffee berries, ensuring farmers always collect the very best coffee beans. By eating the berries, gastric juices and enzymes from the civet’s digestive tract also create shorter peptides in the beans and free its amino acids. This means that when roasted, these coffee beans can produce a smoother, non-bitter and less acidic drink. Gourmands around the world go mad for this taste, enthusing about its subtle hints of chocolate and caramel, as well as its complex and delicate aroma.
Did you know that Kopi Luwak makes a Hollywood cameo in Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s film The Bucket List? The coffee gets several mentions throughout the box office comedy as Jack Nicholson’s favourite coffee serve.
Four brewing tips for Luwak coffee
Indonesian Kopi Luwak, such as our Sumatra roast, creates a robust and aromatic coffee with delicate flavours and a smooth aftertaste. This makes it an excellent choice for a range of brewing methods, including filter devices, cafetieres and espresso makers.
Whatever your brewing method of choice, here are four tips for making the best cup of civet coffee.
Choose a quality bean from a reputable seller
Always order your coffee beans from a trusted supplier. Due to the high prices in this category, sadly there are a lot of cheap coffee beans fraudulently being passed off as authentic ones. It’s also essential to do your research and always buy naturally sourced civet coffee. At all costs, stay away from companies that have any involvement with captive farm-breeding. If your beans are cheap, we can guarantee they haven't been produced using civet-friendly measures. You'll also find the taste of these cheap brands to be considerably poorer, as, in captivity, the civet cat is unable to search for the best coffee cherries.
Pay attention to your grind
The grind size of your ground civet coffee will vary depending on your chosen brewing method and is extremely important to get right if you want to avoid over-extracted or under-extracted coffee.
As a general rule, a cafetiere/French press needs a medium-coarse grind, whereas filter coffees grounds should always be super fine, and espresso machine coffee grounds even finer. It’s important to note, however, that darker roasts tend to be more brittle, so when it comes to your chosen brew method, your coffee grind size will need to be a little coarser. Conversely, beans from higher altitudes can sometimes need to be ground to a finer texture.
Top tip: If the world of coffee bean grinding sounds daunting or complicated, don’t worry. We have been delivering coffee directly to doors since 2007, so our teams are experts on the optimum coffee grind for your chosen brewing method. Simply select your brewing method in our drop-down menu when purchasing your coffee, and we’ll grind to order!
Get your ratios right
Measuring the exact amount of recommended coffee grounds and water is one of the easiest ways to ensure a consistent, high-quality brew. We recommend placing your coffee making device on some scales so you can measure precisely how much boiling water you’re adding to your grounds.
Always use fresh, clean water
With water accounting for over 90% of your brew, you’ll be surprised how much difference choosing the right water for your coffee will make to its taste. If you live in a soft to moderately hard water area, make sure to use filtered tap water and if you live in a moderate to very hard water area go for bottled mineral water with a relatively low mineral content.
At first, being so specific with your water may seem a bit OTT. However, we encourage you to do your own taste test, comparing coffee created with tap water vs filtered or mineral water. From the first sip, you’ll be astounded at the variation in quality.
Our Kopi Luwak
Sourced from Sumatra, our rare civet roast is among the most sought-after and exclusive coffees in the world. As we are fundamentally opposed to cruelty against animals (e.g. keeping wild civet cats captive), our Luwak coffee is imported from natural, non-farmed sources.
Alongside its luxurious rich flavours and smooth taste, our real civet coffee is also remarkably well-priced in a category that suffers from both inflated costs and cheaper, fraudulent products.
Here are some of our top customer reviews for our rarest coffee bean:
“Top quality drink. No complaints. Great price too!”
Mark A. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“A nice smooth, quite earthy taste. Got some for a special occasion and it was worth it!”
Peter S. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The best coffee we have ever drunk.”
John H. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“This coffee is sublime. Without the bitter aftertaste that I always had from normal coffee, this coffee is just the ticket. It’s just the perfect blend of roast and has a slight taste of nuttiness and creaminess. I love the stuff and would buy it again.”
Jason M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Bucket list or not, it's a fine coffee to drink anytime.”
“Since my usual coffee de choix, Kona, is now out of stock with no further deliveries in sight, I decided to try Kopi. Big mistake as I don’t see how I can ever go back to any other coffee! Can I justify the cost by my current reduction in restaurant bills?”
Michael C. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Couldn't ask for a better cup of coffee than this. Excellent flavour and smell with a smooth taste. I will definitely be buying more of this.”
Graham J. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Tried many different coffees, but this one truly is the business. The aroma coming from my office once the beans are ground and the brew is underway really is a unique smell. The coffee itself really is a sublime taste.”
Darren B. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Other Luwak coffee products you may like
If DIY roasting is your thing, why not go for our raw, unroasted green beans? Our Kopi green beans come in 908g bags and are ready to roast as you like them!
Our Exclusive Gift Pack is a unique present idea that’s sure to impress. The gift set features six 227g bags of our most exclusive coffees including Kopi Luwak, Blue Mountain Jamaica, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Colombian San Agustin, Dark Maragogype and Barahona Paradiso.
For an extra wow-factor, each gift pack is stylishly presented in its own gift box with the option to add a bespoke gift message for a more personal touch. To deliver your gift straight to the recipient’s door, all you need to do is add their address details at checkout.
Once they’ve tried this rare, exquisite coffee, many of our customers mention they don’t want to go back to their regular brew! If that sounds familiar, you can save 15% on each of your Luwak orders by choosing our personal subscription service (particularly handy when buying this more expensive coffee).
Instead of selecting the 'One-time purchase' option, pick 'Subscribe & Save (15%)' and choose your frequency. We’ll then roast your beans to order, grind to your brewing method selected and deliver directly to your door. Subscriptions can be amended, skipped or cancelled at any time without any hidden fees. All you need to do is make your changes via your account.
What does Kopi Luwak taste like?
As they are processed via the civet's digestive tract, these beans are said to produce a smoother, non-bitter and less acidic drink. The taste of Luwak Kopi is often said to have earthy, musty hints and notes of dark chocolate and caramel. It is also known for its delicate aftertaste.
How much is a cup of Luwak coffee?
Kopi luwak prices can vary, but there is no doubt that it is an expensive coffee. A single cup will generally cost between £30 up to £80. Some brands will, of course, try to charge even more.
Is Luwak Kopi safe to drink?
The process of collecting these beans does involve droppings from animals, so some people may be understandably concerned about the safety of drinking this type of java. However, thanks to the processes of washing, drying and roasting, it is as safe to drink as any other coffee.
Where can I buy Kopi Luwak coffee?
You can buy our rare Sumatra roast here. We consider our product to be one of the best Kopi Luwak brands on the market as not only are our beans reasonably priced and of the highest quality, but they are also sourced from natural, non-farmed coffee producers (who ensure good living conditions of civets). We are fundamentally opposed to any form of animal cruelty, such as keeping a Luwak animal captive in the name of coffee production. We hope, like us, that the treatment of animals is something you consider when purchasing your coffee and strongly advise you to research if your beans compromise animal welfare in any way.
Not sure which size bag you need? See How Many Cups each size provides.