Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The World’s Most Expensive Coffee from Civet Cats - is it kosher?

Din on Line

Civet coffee or Kopi_ Luwak is produced by the civet cat. Coffee cherries are given to a civet cat to eat and digested by the cat, and then excreted. The coffee beans are taken out of the excrement, dried and roasted. The issue at hand, (besides that it may “ba’al tshaktzu” to eat something like this) is if the rule of “Yotzei Min Hatamei” applies here. (This rule is that anything that exits from a non kosher animal etc. that it is also not permitted to eat etc.) Although the actual beans did not actually come from the cat, but were eaten, the cat’s enzymes however are inside it and what made the changes to the beans.

Although it is controversial, most Rabbinic authorities that I have consulted said that regarding Yotzei Min Hatamei it should be alright. The reasons being that the actual beans didn’t come from the cat, therefore it is similar to bee’s honey, which is permitted because the bee didn’t produce the honey: it only processed it and changed it from the flower into honey.
Regarding the enzymes that are from the cat that is also not an issue we don’t consider excrement as part of the actual animal, it is considered “pirsha b’alma”, and therefore the above issue doesn’t apply.
There are to other factors here that might make drinking this coffee impractical.[...]


The costliest coffee on earth has a humble proletarian beginning. As folklore has it, civet coffee, or kopi luwak in Indonesian, was discovered by plantation workers in colonized Indonesia. Forbidden from consuming coffee beans picked from the plants, they picked up, cleaned and then roasted the beans excreted by wild Asian palm civets that entered the plantations to eat the ripest coffee cherries. The civets’ digestive systems gave kopi luwak a uniquely rich aroma and smooth, rounded flavor — so much so that the Dutch plantation owners soon became die-hard fans.

In the past 10 years, kopi luwak has won the hearts — and wallets — of global consumers. A cup sells for $30 to $100 in New York City and London, while 1 kg of roasted beans can fetch as much as $130 in Indonesia and five times more overseas. The ultimate in caffeine bling is civet coffee packed in a Britannia-silver and 24-carat gold-plated bag, sold at the British department store Harrods for over $10,000. The justification for these exorbitant prices? A claim that kopi luwak is sourced from wild animals and that only 500 kg of it is collected annually. The claim is largely nonsense.

While there are some ethical suppliers of hand-gathered civet coffee, recent investigations, both by journalists and animal-rights activists, have revealed a cruel and avaricious industry. To satisfy global demand, many suppliers keep captured civets in cages and feed them almost exclusively on coffee cherries. Enduring appalling living conditions and an unhealthy diet, these nocturnal omnivores suffer mental distress — incessantly pacing and gnawing on their limbs — and succumb to illness and death. These grim farms are not confined to Indonesia. Farmers elsewhere in Asia have jumped on the bandwagon. By one estimate, 50 tons of mass-produced civet coffee from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and China flood the market every year.


  1. Sounds like tza'ar ba'alei chaim would be another reason to prohibit it.

  2. I wouldn't drink it. It may not violate any law about what the Halacha allows one to consume. But it just wouldn't feel right. Admittedly, feelings are not the basis for formulating Halacha, but they are the basis for personal behavior in cases like choosing who to marry. And what I want to eat.

  3. If someone wanted to be part of this fad, they would find a heter or reason to permit it. But, kind of disgusting, and isn't normal coffee good enough?


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