As a teacher, I often spend until late night working to accomplish papers, reports and lessons. Drinking coffee is a definite big help to keep me awake and alert to make my mind works well. Scientifically speaking coffee has caffeine. Caffeine is a type of drug that promotes alertness. These drugs are called stimulants. Caffeine acts as an adenosine receptor antagonist. Adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptor to keep you from feeling sleepy.
I spend almost a hundred pesos per week to have my delicious 3-in-1 coffee, or sometimes almost two hundred pesos just for one order of coffee to my favourite café. But did you know that there is coffee that costs around $500 per kilogram?
Would you drink cat poop coffee? This doesn’t sound appealing, but the most delicious and expensive coffee in the world is made from beans found in the poop of a cat-like animal called Civet, sold at around $500 per kilogram – the Kopi Luwak.
Couple of years back, I was astounded with the distinctiveness of its production. Wild civets only eat the ripest coffee cherries which ferment in their digestive tract. They produce special enzymes removing acidity, which makes the beans taste smoother. These beans are eradicated together with their feces, and these feces are collected by the farmers. Then, they are washed, dried, pounded and finally roasted. This natural process makes the coffee expensive and superior.
I was amazed with this process a decade ago, but now, this Indonesian coffee has been commercialized worldwide. Big coffee plantations confine hundreds of civets in tiny unsanitized cages. These poor civets cannot choose the ripest coffee cherries anymore. They are fed with old, low-quality cherries. The unique quality has vanished as the tradition has been faked and abused. The traditional method of collecting feces from wild Asian palm civets has given way to an intensive farming method, in which the palm civets are kept in battery cages and are force-fed the cherries. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets and the conditions they are made to live in, which include isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate.
"The conditions are awful, much like battery chickens", said Chris Shepherd, deputy regional director of TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. The civets are taken from the wild and have to endure horrific conditions. They fight to stay together but they are separated and have to bear a very poor diet in very small cages.
In 2013, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigators found wild-caught civets on farms in Indonesia and the Philippines. They were deprived of exercise, proper diet, and space. Video footage from the investigation shows abnormal behaviours such as repeated pacing, circling, or biting the bars of their cages. The animals often lose their fur. A BBC investigation revealed similar conditions. Farmers using caged palm civets in north Sumatra confirmed that they supplied kopi luwak beans to exporters whose produce ends up in Europe and Asia. Tony Wild, the coffee executive responsible for bringing kopi luwak to the Western world, has stated that he is no longer supports using kopi luwak due to animal cruelty and launched a campaign called "Cut the Crap" to halt the use of kopi luwak.
Now, would I drink cat poop coffee? No. The poop doesn’t turn me off, but the idea of contributing to this cruel and fraudulent trade does. Nothing beats the satisfaction of drinking coffee without sacrificing the life of any animal.