If there is a subject that people always ask me about, it is about coffee processed by animals or “made from poop”. I venture to say that after I started working with specialty coffees, the question I heard most was: “And the poop coffee, have you had it?”, to which I usually answer a resounding “Yes!”, only to find myself with the most surprising reactions (ranging from disgust to amazement).
That is why today I am going to give a well-explained answer to you, dear ICKFD readers! 😀
The origin of coffee processed by animals may be there in the 18th century, when the Dutch stipulated that coffee plantations could make a good profit if they were implanted on the islands of Indonesia, due to the climatic and altitude conditions. Thus, they took seedlings of the fruit, native to some African countries, to start production in Asia. It turns out that Dutch producers did not let the agricultural workers (Indonesians) take the coffee that they themselves planted, harvested and processed. The solution? Searching for coffee beans that were eaten and uh, eaten by asian palm civet, this nice little guy in the photo below:
The civets came from nearby forests and fed on the fruits of the coffee tree, and as the seeds were not digested, the farm workers separated the seeds from the feces, washed (well washed, I hope), roasted and ground, as they did with any other coffee. As the animals chose the most ripe and sweet fruits, in the end workers had access to the best coffee that farms produced. The Dutch soon discovered this process and started marketing this coffee too (and there was a chance for Indonesians to drink coffee). This was how the Kopi Luwak, or civeta coffee.
It turns out that because it is an exotic coffee, usually of reasonable quality and low production, its rarity has caused prices to rise a lot. Around 2010, a kilo of Kopi Luwak came to cost more than $ 700 in the international market, which attracted the eyes of the world and other producers for this coffee.
Source (and top photo): alanabread.com
In the past few years, many farms have begun to imprison civets and feed them coffee beans, which naturally did not produce the expected result and created hundreds of counterfeit Kopi Luwaks brands, of inferior quality. What emerged as a creative solution for local workers has become a problem of far greater proportions, to the point that it is now virtually impossible to know whether Kopi Luwak sold on a website or cafeteria is produced from animals in captivity or not.
“And is it tasty?”
It is the second question I heard the most, curiosity from those who have heard of coffee processed by animals and want to know what it tastes like. I have to confess that yes. As far as I have tasted, coffee processed by animals has interesting flavors and aromas. I think I was lucky to taste a good Kopi Luwak in Italy, but I have read countless reports of people in different countries who bought coffees with the label “Legitimate Kopi Luwak” over the internet and have been tricked.
It was only after trying Kopi Luwak that I learned about all these stories of abuse, which impacted me a lot. Today I think that the environmental problem resulting from the capture of small animals does not justify this type of production. It is possible to produce exceptional coffees without causing so much impact. James Hoffmann, author of The World Atlas of Coffee, goes so far as to say that the practice is “abusive and unethical”, and that he thinks that “everyone should avoid coffee processed by animals, not rewarding producers for this despicable behavior”. The coffee may be good, but I have it.
Have you had your poop coffee yet? 😉
[p.s. as imagens de cafés do post não são do Kopi Luwak, ok?]