December 7, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Margaux Lesaffre encounters civet coffee in Indonesia

civet coffee_margaux lesaffre_1024w

The picture shows  the droppings of a Civet cat also called luwak (the common palm civet). The civet cat likes to feed on coffee plantations in Indonesian jungles like Sumatra. Civet cats cannot digest the stones inside the coffee cherries, so these stones are gathered in his anal glands. The anal scent glands gives a strong earthy taste to this very expensive coffee (civet coffee/ kopi luwak; £100 per 100 grams on the Harrods website, though listed as ‘currently unavailable’ – that’s 25-50x ordinary coffee prices).  And for this reason civet cats are now being caught by poachers.

I took this picture when I was in Indonesia last June. I met a local who told me that he was working at a coffee place. Being very enthusiastic about his job, he wanted me to see how the coffee he served to his clients was produced. This is how I discovered luwak coffee and learned about how it was made.

Margaux Lesaffre is studying for an MSc in Science Communication (@MargauxLesaffre;