CW - Exotic food not for the faint of heart
Late last year one of my colleagues took a trip to Vietnam. As a souvenir for her colleagues, she brought back a packet of Kopi Luwak for us in the office to enjoy.
Vietnam isn't particularly known for Kopi Luwak. When coffee enthusiasts discuss the topic of this exotic blend of coffee, they will most likely associate it with Indonesia, where it has been popularised to have been discovered in.
Kopi Luwak is made from beans that have been fermented in the belly of the Civet (sometimes called a Civet Cat). The Civet consumes coffee fruits in their diet - and after fermenting in their belly, they pass the beans in their droppings. These droppings were collected by farmers, cleaned, ground and roasted to make the highly sought after Kopi Luwak.
That's right. This coffee is made from poop - but that's not the main topic of this story.
If you're a coffee enthusiast (or have been hanging out around one for long enough), you'll also recognise that Kopi Luwak is also revered as the world's most expensive coffee. Reports state it can start anywhere close to 200 USD per kilogram.
It's this "floor price" of Kopi Luwak that ties into this blog post. 200 USD per kilogram of anything is appealing to a trader - and when the hustle kicks into high gear, there's no stopping the sheer force of profit-seeking capitalism.
A quick Googling of Kopi Luwak will lead you down a couple of articles telling you not to drink this exotic coffee.
Read further into these links and you'll find a heavy criticism of farms in Southeast Asia that keep Civets in captivity, feeding them a diet of nothing but coffee pods. They're bred and farmed in tiny cages, a far cry from the forests where they are known to roam
I like my cup of Kopi Luwak. I really do. It's rich with notes of chocolate and it keeps me going even on the darkest of days in the office. It's the only coffee that I've pulled an entire cup from using an espresso machine (from the same puck) and still found it to be really enjoyable on its own - sans milk and sugar
My question to you, dear reader, is whether I'm guilty of animal abuse for enjoying this cup of Kopi Luwak that I'm drinking as I write this. The coffee ground was a gift from my colleague - probably a playful jab at us that she made us literally eat shit.
I have no idea if this coffee was picked up in the wee hours of the morning from foragers picking through the floor of the rainforest - or whether it came from a malnourished Civet sitting in a cage only a few inches longer than its body, deriving whatever nutrition it can from the supply of coffee berries being fed to it.
The basic idea of what this coffee is has remained a constant. Civet eats berries, digests the berry pulp, the pith of the berries pass through their gastric juices and come out their butthole.
The manipulated variable is simply our human greed and desire to maximise profit - which has turned one of the most harmless ways to harvest coffee into an abusive, cruel one. It's honestly surprising how much damage greed can do to even the most benign of harvests - literal shit.
I am posting this article to this territory of t/NeededAdjustments because me changing whether I drink the Kopi Luwak in the pantry or not is an adjustment that makes no impact whatsoever. It's easy to come and shell me in the comments saying I am creating demand for an industry powered by cruelty. Heck, some people get a good kick out of it too because it makes them feel important - it makes them feel like they're doing their part in the world from the tips of their fingers tapping away on a tiny smartphone keyboard.
There's adjustments needed all over the place when it comes to fixing a problem like this that's ruining everything that's good in the world and honestly I don't know where to even start searching.
But I don't think it'll start and end with me putting down the cup of coffee I'm sipping on as I type on this. It's literal shit after all. It could have been picked off the forest floor - or from a tray underneath a wire mesh cage on an overcrowded farm.
Wherever these adjustments have to be, I hope we can find it before we either lose our Civet cats or this coffee that they produce.
Cuz this is some damn good coffee.