A new report from World Animal Protection has found demand for the world’s most expensive coffee is continuing to keep civet cats captive in cruel conditions.
Civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak as it is also known in Indonesia, is produced across the island of Bali, by civets, who are poached from the wild and kept in cramped cages to produce gourmet coffee for visiting tourists.
A research team from World Animal Protection recently visited 13 of the suspected 30 to 40 Kopi Luwak venues to assess the welfare of the 80 captive civets.
The study revealed that all the civet cats were kept in severely inadequate conditions, abnormal repetitive behaviours such as pacing and tail biting were observed at several venues, and 66 per cent of venues assessed were open for more than eight hours a day, exposing these nocturnal animals on show for the majority of daylight hours. The study also found a worrying increase in new civet venues and the number of civets at each venue.
The distinctive tasting coffee can cost up to US$100 per cup (about $135) and is produced from coffee beans that are digested by the civet, whose faeces are then collected, processed and sold as Kopi Luwak.
“We’re calling on Aussie tourists to avoid these cruel caged civet coffee plantations when on holiday,” says Ben Pearson, Senior Campaign Manager from World Animal Protection.
“Many tourists are unaware of the cruelty associated with caged civet coffee and even queue up to take a photo with a civet to share on social media.”
Ben advises that any tourists tempted by the novelty of Kopi Luwak should only choose ‘cage- free’ civet coffee.
“Choosing cage-free civet coffee is good for everyone – the wild civets who remain protected, for rural communities that can continue generating income from collecting the beans, and for the coffee connoisseurs who will receive the highest quality product,” Ben says.
Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach at World Animal Protection says civets are highly active nocturnal animals that are poached from the wild and kept in cramped cages simply to draw in visiting tourists who are curious to know how civet coffee is made.
“Unfortunately, seeing caged civets helps to convince tourists that they are drinking genuine, real civet coffee as part of their tour of Bali,” Jan says.
“Detecting cruel civet coffee remains a constant challenge because of the difficulty in distinguishing between beans from caged or wild civet cats. However, if tourists see civets in cages as part of their tour, this is a clear indication that animal abuse is involved.”
World Animal Protection first uncovered the cruelty associated with caged civet coffee in 2013. As a result, at least 13 retailers, including well-known brands such as Harrods and Selfridges in the United Kingdom and Simon Lévelt in the Netherlands, have taken civet coffee off their shelves or agreed to further investigate in order to only source civet coffee from wild civets.
Image credit: World Animal Protection/Andi Sucirta.