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(ID, VN) Civet coffee

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  • anmlpepl@whidbey.com
    Looks as if it s time to repost this -- From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010: Coffee fad revives civet farming DENPASAR, HANOI--Just seven years after
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2012
      Looks as if it's time to repost this --

      From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010:

      Coffee fad revives civet farming

      DENPASAR, HANOI--Just seven years after
      China banned civet farming because of the
      association of civet consumption with more than
      800 human deaths from Sudden Acute Respiratory
      Syndrome, a vogue for pricy civet coffee has
      brought the industry back perhaps bigger than
      ever--and certainly in many more places.
      Sold to coffee snobs as kopi luwak, the
      Indonesian word for it, civet coffee is brewed
      from the beans that civets excrete after eating
      coffee berries, one of their favorite foods.
      Civet coffee is by reputation stronger and
      usually more aromatic than most coffees.
      Collecting and salvaging the excreted
      beans from wild civets is so laborious that civet
      coffee, known for centuries, has historically
      been so costly to produce as to be consumed only
      in small amounts by the very rich and jaded. But
      civet farming in coffee-growing country has
      brought civet coffee within occasional reach of
      the merely affluent--at prices of from $50 to
      $100 a cup.
      The continued existence of a wild civet
      coffee industry and the existence of some
      free-range civet farms allows consumers to
      believe that the civet coffee they drink is not
      factory farmed, that the civets who ingest and
      excrete the beans will not eventually be sold to
      slaughter at live markets, and that their pelts
      will not go into the fur trade.
      Sometimes this may be true. As the civet
      coffee industry grows, however, and competition
      for the fast-expanding market increases,
      consumers have less and less way to be sure of
      knowing exactly where their beans have been.
      Recalled Animals Asia Foundation founder
      Jill Robinson in a November 2010 posting to the
      Asia Animal Protection Network, "Someone sent me
      a packet of civet coffee beans last year. Our
      then-animal welfare director Mark Jones, now
      with Care For the Wild, kindly did some
      research." The company that sold the civet
      coffee beans "claimed to use only beans collected
      from wild civets, and that most of the profits
      go to a civet conservation project in Vietnam.
      Naturally this causes concern that others less
      ethical might cash in on the established market
      and farm the civets."
      "Growing demand is fueling a gold rush in
      the Philippines and Indonesia," reported New
      York Times correspondent Norimtsu Onishi in April
      2010. "Harvesters are scouring forest floors in
      the Philippines. In Indonesia, where the coffee
      has a long history, enterprising individuals are
      capturing civets and setting up mini-farms."
      Civet dung collectors Alberto Patog, 60,
      and his son, Lambert, 20, of the Cordillera
      district in the Philippines, "wished they could
      expand their business but said there were not
      enough civets around," Onishi wrote. "Local
      residents still prize civets less for
      coffee-picking ability than for meat."
      The Patogs are among about 20 collectors
      who sell the defecated coffee beans they find to
      Vie Reyes of Manila, who founded her company,
      Bote Central, about five years ago. Reyes told
      Onishi that she only buys coffee beans from wild
      civets, but that limits her ability to compete
      to fill the rising demand--and leaves more market
      share to the fast-expanding farmers.
      Sumatran civet farmer Mega Kurniawan,
      28, in business just two years, already had 102
      civets at three locations when Onishi visited.
      Each civet produces just over five pounds of
      "processed" coffee beans per month. "During the
      day," Onishi wrote, "Kurniawan's civets sleep
      inside small wooden cages before growing active
      at dusk. At night, the animals eat from fresh
      plates of coffee cherries, replenished every two
      hours, or pace at a brisk, caffeinated clip."
      A neighbor, Ujang Suryana, 62, "has
      found a way to increase the civets' output
      exponentially by mechanically stripping the
      coffee beans from the cherries and mixing them in
      a banana mash," Onishi continued. "The civets
      gobble it up. This way, no beans are wasted.
      He has raised their dung production from 2.2
      pounds a week to a whopping 6.6 pounds a day."
      The Association of Indonesian Coffee
      Luwak Farmers, formed in 2009, does not appear
      to work with any recognized humane organization
      to maintain high animal care standards, but does
      try to counter growing concern--including
      elsewhere in Southeast Asia--that civet coffee
      farms are operating like civet meat and fur farms.

      Trung Nguyen

      "On our Sumatran civet farm, located in
      Lampung province, civets are kept in cages at
      night but allowed to roam protected courtyards
      during the day, where they can forage for coffee
      beans hidden for them to find by the farmers,"
      asserts the Vietnamese coffee company Trung
      Nguyen, describing the inverse of the normal
      activity cycle of civets, normally a nocturnal
      species. "The farmer selects beans for the civet
      to eat," Trung Nguyen continues. "The civets
      become quite tame and can be handled and accept
      treats from their caretaker's hands. Their
      population is preserved by the farm's breeding
      Trung Nguyen also sells Bantai civet
      coffee. "This environmentally and ethically
      sound coffee comes from the Julia Campbell
      Agro-Forest Memorial Park in the Philippines,"
      the Trung Nguyen web site says. "The park
      shelters the rare Philippines civet," Paradoxorus
      Philippinensis, "and is also home to native
      people who live in communion with the civets and
      their forest. Purchase of this coffee supports
      the maintenance and expansion of the park, as
      well as protection for the endangered civets and
      the preservation of the indigenous tribal
      community of AsiputĀŠBantai coffee civets live in
      an organic preserve and no non-organic coffee
      grows within their range."
      Though Trung Nguyen courts expanded
      sales abroad, the company primarily produces for
      domestic consumption--and Vietnamese consumers
      get a different brew.
      In Hanoi, "Trung Nguyen Weasel Coffee
      sells on every street corner," reports Kairos
      Coalition founder Robert Lucius. "My sense is
      that it is more of a label than the actual
      product of civets. Friends told me civet coffee
      was available in Hanoi but in three years it has
      remained elusive. The price for Trung Nguyen's
      version certainly belies its rarity."
      According to the web site PoopCoffee.com,
      "The Trung Nguyen Coffee Company hired a German
      scientist to research the chemical processes that
      occur in the civet's stomach. In 1996 scientists
      were able to isolate six specific digestive
      enzymes and then use these enzymes to create a
      synthetic soak known as Legendee, which they
      patented. Two varieties of Legendee coffee are
      offered. Legendee Gold simulates civet coffee
      from Arabica coffee beans. Legendee Classic
      simulates the civet coffee that comes from a mix
      of coffee bean varietals including Arabica,
      Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa.
      "Other companies market other products
      that are sold as simulated civet coffee,"
      PoopCoffee.com continues. "Some of these are
      created by adding flavorings to coffee beans.
      Several other animals besides civets have been
      used to produce this type of coffee. One animal
      used in Malaysia and Indonesia is the barking
      deer," or muntjac. Coffee produced by gathering
      beans from muntjac droppings is known as kopi
      muntjak or kopi muncak. Virtually all kopi
      muntjak is gathered in the wild."

      Factory civet farms

      Despite civet coffee industry efforts to
      promote the images of beans collected from the
      wild and tame civets who eat from farmers' hands,
      contrary observations are frequent.
      "The Bali Animal Welfare Association
      received two reports this week," BAWA founder
      Janice Girardi e-mailed on November 20, 2010,
      "from tourists who were taken on buses to coffee
      houses here in Bali that not only served kopi
      luwak but had cages where civets were kept just
      for viewing. The tourists were upset that the
      cages were too small and the animals obviously
      Photographer Kemal Jufri illustrated
      Onishi's New York Times article with a close-up
      of a miserable-looking civet standing on a wire
      floored cage on the second floor of a grim
      structure resembling a prison.
      This was the reality of civet farming
      that the Chinese federal health ministry
      addressed on November 2, 2004, banning the
      slaughter and cooking of civets for human
      consumption to promote "civilized eating habits,"
      the state-run Beijing Daily reported.
      About 10,000 captive civets were
      slaughtered, beginning 10 days after the health
      ministry received data showing that 70% of the
      captive civets in Guangdong province had tested
      positive for SARS. Wild civets appeared to be
      unaffected. Though horseshoe bats rather than
      civets are believed to be the host species for
      SARS, and the captive civets were apparently
      infected by human contact, civets are capable of
      transmitting SARS back to people.
      The Chinese prohibition of civet
      consumption was stringently enforced for several
      years in Guangdong. Seven thousand health
      inspectors in January 2007 visited 10,000
      Guangdong restaurants, finding just one live
      civet and several frozen civet carcasses. But
      Guangzhou Forestry Public Security Bureau
      commissar Chen Xibiao alleged to Ivan Zhai of the
      South China Morning Post that civet farming
      continued in Hubei and Shanxi provinces, to the
      north. As the Chinese government is encouraging
      rapid expansion of the coffee industry in Yunnan,
      to the southwest, there is the possibility that
      civet coffee could soon be produced in China as a
      lucrative export product.

      Civet fur

      Then-U.S. Health & Human Serv-ices
      Secretary Tommy Thompson in mid-2004 halted
      imports of either live or dead civets, plus
      civet parts, such as civet pelts, but exempted
      products "processed to render them
      noninfectious." Though this exemption allowed
      the import of civet coffee, the purpose of it
      was apparently to allow continued imports of
      finished civet fur garments.
      Civet fur hit the U.S. and European
      markets in abundance in fall 2003, coinciding
      with the Chinese civet ranching boom that
      preceded the SARS pandemic. As the connection
      between SARS and civets emerged, the fur was
      said to be from "Lipi cats" and "genottes," the
      French and Italian spelling of "genet."
      Taxonomists recognize genets and civets as
      different branches of a closely related family.
      Meat and fur sales are secondary revenue
      sources for civet coffee producers.
      "Because civet coffee pulls in money, I
      imagine civets will be exploited to get it,"
      opined Primates for Primates founder Lynette
      Shanley from Australia, where civet coffee has
      come into vogue among trendy thrill-seekers.
      "But realistically civet coffee is very
      expensive, so I think that will stop it from
      becoming an everyday luxury item. Civet coffee
      will only appeal to some, and then even among
      those who can afford it once in a while there
      will be people who find it revolting, as it has
      been through the civets' digestive tracts.
      Hopefully," Shanley said, "civet coffee will be
      a short-lived trend.
      But civet coffee has already been consumed in Indonesia for centuries.
      Rudy Widjaja, 68, whose family has
      operated the Warung Tinggi coffee store in
      Jakarta since 1881, told Onishi of The New York
      Times that civet coffee was popular with the
      Dutch, who ruled most of Indonesia from circa
      1650 to 1950, and with the Japanese troops who
      occupied Indonesia during World War II. After
      that, though, Warung Tinggi did not again sell
      civet coffee until 2007.
      --Merritt Clifton

      Merritt Clifton
      Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
      P.O. Box 960
      Clinton, WA 98236

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