Indonesia 2016

My Visit to the Civets (creators of Kopi Luwak)

The final stop on our tour of the areas south of Bandung, after the Edenic hot springs, was a place that Orta, our guide, called a place for “wild civets”.

Civets are a bit like ferrets, they are native to Indonesia, and they eat ripe coffee beans. When they shit the beans out, they become Kopi Luwak, the most expensive and “best” coffee in the world. I’ve bought the beans before as a gift before, and I’ve never really thought about where they come from.


But now I know. It wasn’t pretty.

There were three civets in a small room, sat in small, dirty, separate cages. There were no solid walls, despite the civets being nocturnal — they sat in the bright sunlight all day. The civets had no stimulation — only discarded coffee beans and other vegetables rotting on the floor, and their own shit that hadn’t been collected yet. It smelt old and unpleasant in there. There was no one around at all.

They were not wild. They were not happy.

However, I can’t say “This is outrageous, this should not be allowed; no one should drink kopi luwak coffee“, because I am not a vegetarian. I eat meat at home and in restaurants and in takeaways and here in Indonesia, and apart from the former I might be eating the meat of animals who have suffered as these civets have suffered, or worse. So there’s nothing I can justifiably say about this.

But I wanted to say these things and to post these pictures, because looking at those civets looking back at me made me sick to my hypocritical stomach.