Poop Coffee - The Most Expensive Coffee in the World: Kopi Luwak Coffee

Updated on: February 16, 2023
Author: Nick
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what is kopi luwak

At an average of $600 per pound, kopi luwak (Asian Palm Civet Coffee) holds the prestige of being one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Also referred to as cat poop coffee, the delicacy is formulated from the coffee bean-laden excrement of the civet cat.

In this article, we cover the history of kopi luwak coffee. We will also explain the flavor of the remarkable beverage, and why it's so expensive!

In addition, we provide facts about the civet cat and the production of the unique coffee. You’ll even learn about other animals that poop coffee!

You didn't see that coming, did you? Haha...

So keep reading to learn all you need to know about animals that poop coffee beans.

History of Kopi Luwak Coffee

The Indonesian (East Indies) islands of Sumatra and Java were part of the Dutch colonial empire during the eighteenth century. Arabica coffee plantations flourished throughout the region. The plants obtained from the Arabian Peninsula grew well which established a lucrative cash crop.

The Dutch plantation owners guarded their coffee selfishly and prevented the Indigenous workers from enjoying the beverage.

However, the farm workers realized that the palm civet cats would dine on the coffee cherries before harvest. The civet’s excrement was then laden with partially digested coffee beans.

Farm workers and locals would gather the fecal matter of the civet to clean and roast the beans so they could enjoy having coffee.

But what they quickly discovered was that poop coffee tasted better than traditional Arabica ground roast!


The plantation owners soon learned about the actions of the farm workers and tried the poop coffee - which they soon discovered was indeed delicious.

Despite the superior taste of the brew, the cat poop coffee did not catch on as a delicacy for centuries.

During the 1990s, Troy Wild visited Indonesia and brought back kopi luwak coffee beans to the United Kingdom. The beans quickly took a foothold as a ‘must-have’ for coffee connoisseurs in many parts of the world.

By 2000, Hollywood took notice of the unusual animal poop coffee. Movie producers started to feature the poop coffee in films, and even “The Oprah Show” talked about the unique brew bringing it to the attention of American audiences.

Nowadays, kopi luwak has become an internet sensation with Facebook and Instagram memes featuring the darling Asian palm civet cat leaving behind coffee bean-laden fecal matter everywhere.

The fascination quickly grew around this unusual coffee type with many people finding it hard to believe and others wanting to try this rare brew.

Flavor of Kopi Luwak (aka Poop Coffee) 

As one of the world’s most expensive coffees, it stands to reason that drinking kopi luwak coffee should knock your socks off. Ideally, it should be on the same level as white truffles and caviar.

However, does the flavor of this specialty coffee truly match the hype?

asian palm civet poop coffee

When kopi luwak coffee connoisseurs enjoy a cup of this unique coffee they describe the flavor as musky and steeped in an earthy undertone.

We know that sounds like actual poop, but it's not...

Many believe they detect a hint of chocolate and caramel. Some even term the flavor as ‘wild’ or ‘jungle-like’. There exists a distinct nutty twist to the coffee with a certain sweetness that definitely appeals to coffee drinkers.


One of the hallmark distinctions of poop coffee is the lack of bitterness in the flavor.

The sweet, smooth taste is due to the unique fermentation-type process that occurs in the civet cat’s digestive tract. Proteins from the coffee cherries are broken down during digestion which rids the coffee of any bitterness or unpleasant aftertaste.

Honestly, each batch of kopi luwak coffee varies significantly in flavor because a variety of things can impact the taste.

Common factors that influence the flavor of kopi luwak coffee include:

  • Soil type where the coffee plants were grown. 
  • Seasonal fruits that are consumed by the civet alongside the coffee cherries.
  • Tree varieties.
  • Processing and roasting methods.
kopi luwak coffee

The civet cat is not picky about the coffee cherries it consumes. In some situations, it might not pick the most mature fruits which will influence the taste of the coffee.

Nowadays, with the popularity of kopi luwak coffee, many civet facilities have arisen where the cats are farmed and their feces collected for coffee production. In such locations, the flavor of the coffee remains consistent because the civet cat is fed only a strict diet to ensure quality. 

But is this humane? Keep reading to find out!

Kopi Luwak Coffee Production 

The first step in kopi luwak coffee production includes gathering the coffee bean-laden excrement. The beans in the dung are cleaned and sanitized prior to processing. The gathered beans undergo roasting and grinding. When roasting, the beans are usually roasted to medium-dark to achieve the best flavor.

Kopi luwak production

The Process of Poop Coffee 

Below is the process of kopi luwak production:

  1. The evergreen coffee tree produces flowers. The trees were imported to Asia during the 17th century and have flourished ever since.

  2. The flowers fall and become fruits (coffee cherries) which produce seeds (not actually beans) that are laden with caffeine to act as a defense against foraging herbivores. 

  3. Asian palm civets consume the ripest coffee cherries. 

  4. The digestion process undergoes a fermentation process that takes away the pulp of the coffee cherries.

  5. Within about 24 hours, the civet excretes the coffee seeds in its feces. 

  6. Farmers collect the feces, sanitize the kopi luwak beans (seeds), roast them, and grind them into the most expensive coffee in the world.

Animals that Poop Coffee

Animals that poop coffee beans are not strictly Asian palm civets. There are other animals that consume the coffee cherry and excrete the seeds in their feces which are then used as coffee.

Coatis Poop Coffee 

The coatis will also dine on coffee cherries and then poop out the seeds. A member of the raccoon family, the coatis live in Peru. Coffee made from the coatis' excrement is known as Mishasho or Uhunaris. The coffee lacks bitterness and is remarkably smooth.

Animal Poop Coffee

Jacu Bird Coffee 

A native of Brazil, the Jacu bird enjoys dining on ripe coffee cherries.

The coffee plantation Espirito Santo in Pedra Azul collects the bird's droppings. They then have the excreted coffee seeds cleaned and dried for processing into the coffee.

The coffee has a sweet, full-bodied flavor that has a touch of cinnamon undertones. After each sip, you’ll enjoy a clean aftertaste. The coffee is referred to as Peruvian poop coffee.

Jacu bird poop coffee

Elephant Dung Coffee 

Elephants also consume copious quantities of coffee cherries and then poop out the partially digested coffee seeds which are then gathered, cleaned, and processed into coffee.

Many don’t believe that elephant poop coffee tastes as good as kopi luwak coffee, but it still sells for an astounding $900 per pound.

Animal-Processed Monkey Coffee 

Monkey coffee, sometimes incorrectly referred to as monkey poop coffee, is not actually made from feces.

Instead, the macaca monkeys chew the coffee cherries, swallow the pulp and spit out the coffee seeds. The saliva in the monkey’s mouth helps break down the chemical composition of the coffee beans in much the same way that the digestive tract of other animals works.

The animal-processed coffee is made from the spit-out coffee seeds which are cleaned, roasted, and ground to create what is referred to as ‘chicha’.

Is Poop Coffee Safe? 

When first gathered, the feces of the Asian palm civet cat are highly contaminated with things such as E. coli and other bacteria. You cannot use the beans safely without processing them. However, the coffee seeds are sanitized, roasted, and ground to make them safe for human consumption.

The Civet Cat 

Most people who discover kopi luwak coffee focus on the high price and the fact that the exceptional product was obtained in excrement.

They lose sight of the key player in this coffee’s production: the Asian Palm Civet Cat.

Asian Palm Civet

Kopi luwak is often referred to as ‘civet cat coffee’ or ‘cat poop coffee’ because it is obtained from digested coffee beans that are excreted in the furry civet’s feces.

However, what exactly is a civet cat?

The name is a misnomer because the civet cat is not a feline (even though it does physically resemble a cat) but is closely related to the mongoose.

The Asian palm civet cat lives throughout much of Asia in forests and mangroves. Due to urban sprawl, it is not uncommon for wild civets to be found living in building roof spaces.

The shy civet is nocturnal by nature and typically lives high in the trees for safety. 

For centuries the civet has been favored for its naturally occurring musk which is used as a high-value stabilizing agent in premium perfumes.

The pungent, musk secretion is excreted by both male and female’s perineal glands and probably accounts for the very distinct musk-like flavor of the civet poop coffee.

The musk is harvested by either removing the glands from a dead animal or scraping the secretions on a live civet.

In the wild, the Asian palm civet cat enjoys an omnivore diet. The creature regularly dines on insects, fruits, berries, bananas, rats, palm flower sap, and mangos, in addition to eating coffee cherries.

Sadly, in captivity, civets farmed for the creation of kopi luwak coffee are fed a dominant diet of only coffee cherries. The civets quickly become dangerously malnourished with a substantially shortened lifespan which raises many ethical questions around the world.

The wild Asian palm civet cat plays a key ecological role in the world. The animals act as natural seed dispensers because they regularly consume whole seeds in a variety of fruits.

The seeds then pass through the animal's gastrointestinal tract whole and are dispensed throughout the forest to promote a diverse and healthy ecosystem.

Civet Cat Controversy

Initially, the indigenous farmers would collect the fecal matter of wild Asian palm civets who had feasted on the coffee berries in the plantation’s field. However, as the popularity of the unusual coffee from poop grew, commercial civet farming emerged to meet the market needs of the world.

Currently, Indonesia is the world’s number one producer of cat poop coffee due to the abundance of civet farming. Farming civets has become a lucrative practice.

Unfortunately, the civet suffers horribly.

The animals are kept separated in tiny cages and forced to eat an unhealthy diet of predominantly coffee cherries.

Asian Palm Civet Eating Coffee Cherries

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has listed the Asian palm civet as a protected species. Despite the classification, most Civet farms fail to properly care for the creatures.

The Ethical Implications of Cat Poop Coffee

PETA Asia carried out an investigation into the care of civets.

Sadly,  the animals were kept in filthy, tiny cages. They had no dark area to sleep which is a necessity for nocturnal animals. The civets panted non-stop from the oppressive heat. Many had open wounds and significant hair loss.

The civet cats were not only forced to live in tiny cages, but the floor of the cage is often wire mesh. The delicate feet of the civet cannot escape standing on the wire mesh which slowly starts cutting into the paw pads leading to horrific wounds.

Asian palm civet mistreatment

Kopi luwak often carries the label ‘wild-sourced’ which is a blatant lie in most situations. It is impossible to wild-source coffee on a massive, commercial scale.

Many farmers justify the use of words by stating that the civets were born in the wild prior to being captured and caged on farms.

Also, when the civet cat reaches around three years of age it will be released into the wild, but most won’t live so long and few farms even carry out the promised release.

And since these civets were raised in captivity, they may not survive in the wild...

For us, this is heartbreaking, and the main reason why we will never support this trend.

Cat Poop Coffee Could Cause a Pandemic 

During the SARS outbreak in China, researchers pinpointed the source of the SARS-CoV coronavirus as civet cats [1]. The virus originated in animals and then jumped to humans.

Scientists have also considered civet cats as a possible intermediate host for COVID-19. They argue for greater monitoring and regulation in the exotic pet trade, to ensure animal welfare and health. This could prevent the emergence of new diseases [2].

Many Asian palm civet cats are not released into the wild following their life on farms. Instead, they are sold at live-animal markets which put them in contact with humans and could easily foster the development of the next pandemic.

Related Reads...Discover other types of Coffee:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is kopi luwak brewed like any other coffee?

Yes, kopi luwak coffee is brewed like any other type of coffee. After the coffee seeds have been separated from the civet cat’s feces and undergoes sanitization, roasting, and grinding, the poop coffee is brewed no different than any other coffee type. Use your favorite type of coffee maker to brew kopi luwak coffee.

Is kopi luwak coffee healthy?

Many believe that kopi luwak coffee contains abundant antioxidants that help battle chronic diseases and inflammation in the body. It may also have antibacterial properties. However, how healthy it is, depends on how you drink your coffee (milk and sugar, anyone?)

What is the caffeine level of kopi luwak?

Studies have shown regular coffee beans contain 0.70% and when roasted 0.61% caffeine. The green coffee beans in kopi luwak contained 0.51% and roasted 0.47% caffeine [3].

How much does a cup of kopi luwak cost?

At the time of writing, the cost of a cup of kopi luwak coffee ranges from $20 to $100 per cup for wild poop coffee. Farm-raised poop coffee costs from $10 to $50 per cup.

Cute asian palm civet

Bottom Line

As one of the highest-priced beverages in the world, kopi luwak coffee is a must-try luxury for many coffee aficionados. However, you’ll need to determine if the beverage is truly worth the exorbitant cost and also weigh the ethical aspect of the exotic brew.

For many people, a cup of this piping hot cat poop coffee is a dare that they simply cannot pass up. They view it as a bucket list item - something they will try only once in a lifetime. For others, it is an acquired taste that they truly enjoy and don’t mind investing in.

Nick loves coffee... Actually, he NEEDS coffee! So, he has dedicated his time to learning all he can about this magical bean. He can make a mean latte, is obsessed with flat whites, and is always up for a cup of java!
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