| Potentially edible!|
Kopi luwak ("civet coffee" in Indonesian) is a heinous tasting coffee resulting from the finest forms of animal abuse and unequalled shady marketing. For those connoisseurs who prefer their coffee to be adventurous, kopi luwak is unequalled in both fantasy and romanticism. Who wouldn't prefer their coffee beans to be digested and shat out of the rectum of a small mammal? Only if that coffee indeed turned out to be as incredibly delicious and fulfilling as so many animal-waste coffee drinkers claim.
The story goes that people in Indonesia started collecting civets' (specifically, the Asian palm civet) waste to secure animal droppings that had perfectly good coffee beans inside. The excrement could be mostly cleaned off and the beans would not only roast but still brew a black coloured coffee. It is a great tale of rag to riches how desperately poor people searching for anything they could sell in order to keep eating would discover something that bored rich housewives in Manhattan would pay $1000 per kilo for. Since then, the narrative claims that those in the kopi luwak industry in Indonesia live a prosperous life and connoisseurs can enjoy the most sought after and succulent brewed drinks ever… seriously… if you don't try it right now I'll never invite you over for tea again it is that good! The digestive process turns what are ordinary beans into super-near-magic beans due to the acids or something in the civets' innards which infuse bold flavor and taste-richness from the moment they land in the stomach to the coffee beans' final escape the next day.
Unveiling the scam
The real story goes that the industry is one of kopi luwak workers still making appalling wages whose product is eventually marked up on such a scale that even the petroleum industry couldn't compete. To make it all the more charming, many civets are housed in battery cages force fed coffee berries. This makes faeces collection all the easier and saves the tedious work required to hunt around through jungles getting mud on your shoes. Add to this the less than sanitary conditions and we have a simply ideal career description for everyone who works in the long distribution chain. Civets are born and die in a cage while being slowly tortured to death, low-end workers shove food in animals' mouths and clean through their excrement. Middle-end suppliers gather up the product and mark it up selling it wholesale to western buyers. Western buyers place them in fancy packaging making the sweetest killing of all as their marketing gurus convince rich people bored of champagne to buy animal waste coffee. The magic of globalization could not be more beautifully illustrated.
Claimed health benefits
Those with the least integrity also claim the liquid that comes from these coffee beans cures every horrible nasty disease or ailment one can think of. These range from preventing breast cancer to putting your chi in order. Want better skin… then Oprah knows how:. Or… you can chase after muscle pain reduction, ulcer reduction, cure diabetes, protecting teeth, or liver protection. You can also enjoy its powerful antioxidants. Kopi luwak has even inspired human-poop-coffee of which we can only imagine the incredible health benefits.
Coffee tasting experts generally are of the consensus (based partly on blind taste tests) that it is a poor quality coffee which is bought for the fantasy rather than actual qualities which should count (considering where the beans came from) such as taste and consistency. As with most food based incredibly-super-duper claims, little actual analysis has been done on the coffee beans themselves. One scientist could find no discernible difference between kopi luwak compared with coffee beans that weren't squeezed out of an animal's behind. Naturally this should create enough healthy scepticism to keep the media from getting carried away. However, even though the BBC originally reported it as one of those fun quirky stories (as most media outlets have and still do) the BBC has recently aired an expose on animal cruelty within the industry. Harrods Department Store has (in principle) called for tighter regulations on the beans. Supposedly this would mean only beans found in jungle hunts would be acceptable which, of course, would be very easy to verify and regulate.
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