Civet Coffee or Kopi Luwak is coffee brewed from beans ingested and defecated by the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) of South and South East Asia. It is believed that the process changes the chemistry of the beans and enhances the flavor of the coffee (produced from them). Kopi Luwak happens to be an Indonesian specialty, fetching as much as 500 USD for every kg of produce. The astronomical amounts customers in certain Asian countries (the Middle East and East Asia) are willing to pay has persuaded some people in South India’s Karnataka state to try their luck at producing their own version of the beverage. It will be known as ‘Ainmane’ and will be marketed by the Coorg Consolidated Commodities, a start-up operating in the southern district of Coorg (or Kodagu). News about India’s own version of Kopi Luwak recently made the headlines in India’s dailies. Here’s an excerpt from the article ‘India starts producing world’s most expensive coffee’, that appeared in ‘The Indian Express’ (dated September 11, 2017):
The feces of this cat are collected, processed and sold. It is highly priced because it is claimed to be more nutritious and high cost involved in sourcing the animal dropping, wastage during processing and quality certification. Civet coffee, a drink of elite consumed widely in the Gulf nations and Europe, is sold for Rs 20,000-25,000/kg abroad. Here in the country’s largest coffee-growing Karnataka state, a start-up firm, Coorg Consolidated Commodities (CCC), has made a humble beginning of making the luxury coffee on a small scale and has also decided to open a cafe to serve the brew locally.
“Initially, 20 kg of civet coffee was produced. After establishing the start-up firm, 60 kg was produced in 2015-16 and 200 kg last year. We hope half a tonne production from the new crop to be harvested from October,” Narendra Hebbar, one of the founders of CCC, said. The exotic coffee is being sold locally under the brand Ainmane, he said that the company has only one outlet at Club Mahindra Madikeri Resort where it sells locally produced coffee, spices and other products. Hebbar also shared that the company sources the animal poop from plantations located close to forest from where civet cats come to eat the ripest coffee bean cherries.
Asked if the company plans to export, Hebbar said it is not viable to export in view of high certification cost given the current low production levels. “We want to promote this coffee locally. We will open a cafe soon. We will sell ‘Coorg Luwark Coffee’ along with other varieties like Cappuccino and Expresso,” he said. A senior Coffee Board official also confirmed that civet cat coffee is being produced in small quantities in parts of Coorg and Chamarajnagar districts. “It is very small quantity, done by individuals. They produce and market as a speciality coffee, a niche product which is very expensive,” he said.
Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, shows an illustration of the Asian Palm Civet from the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London′ (dating back to 1848-1860).