Keep cruelty out of your cup
Its become increasingly common for people to be concerned about the environmental impact of their daily coffee, but did you know that animals are suffering too? Civet ‘cats’ are being poached from the wild to supply the demand for the world’s most expensive coffee.
Origins of civet coffee
The origins of civet coffee can be traced to colonial times. Locals working on Dutch owned plantations were forbidden to use the coffee beans grown there, but found an interesting way to bypass restrictions. Workers noticed that wild Asian palm civets – known as luwak in Indonesia – would eat the coffee cherries and produce faeces containing undigested, fermented coffee beans. After cleaning and roasting, the beans produced a distinctive taste thought by some to be superior to the standard beans.
What's the problem?
While originally civet coffee was collected naturally, the recent spike in demand has resulted in civets being cruelly poached from the wild. These gentle mammals are often injured during capture in traps and snares, and experience extreme stress when exposed to human handling.
A life in captivity
World Animal Protection inspected 26 venues across Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan. None of the venues we observed that housed civets met even the most basic needs of civets in captivity. Civets that have been poached from the wild are housed in cramped and filthy conditions. In some venues, two civets were confined to one tiny, barren metal cage.
Their captive lives are as different to their wild ones as is possible. Civets are detained in cages and force-fed coffee cherries. This unnaturally large consumption creates serious health issues for captive civets.
Some venues also offered direct tourist interaction with civets. In the wild, these shy and nocturnal mammals would sleep throughout the day and only venture out to feed at night. In captivity, they are kept awake during the day and are in constantly close proximity to tourists. Frequent human handling and disturbed sleeping patterns puts these wild animals under extreme stress.
Become part of the solution
Our advice for coffee lovers is simple. To help stop the cycle of abuse we need to reduce tourist demand for this ‘luxury’ bean. We are calling on tourists to avoid Kopi Luwak coffee plantations that keep civets in captivity. If the civets are caged, or if you can take a selfie with them, then you can be sure it’s cruel. There’s no excuse. It’s abuse.
For those who still want a taste of this exotic coffee, there is good news. Genuine wild civet coffee still exists across parts of Indonesia. This wild civet coffee benefits civets by protecting them from being hunted, and is generally acknowledged as producing higher quality coffee due to civets being able to pick the best coffee cherries. This in turn, helps to benefit local communities who are doing the right thing by wild animals.
So next time you’re after that caffeine hit, make sure it doesn’t come with a side of cruelty. Add your name to our pledge today. Avoid captive civet coffee venues and help us keep wild animals in the wild, where they belong.