The Jakarta Post
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has organized a boycott of the country's popular commodity, Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, saying that animal abuse was part and parcel of the production of the coffee beans.
PETA said in a press conference that most of the civets producing the famous coffee were confined to cages and subjected to cruel, unnatural treatment.
'Purchasing a product that's the direct result of animal abuse supports the abuse, which is why PETA is asking consumers to boycott civet coffee,' PETA vice president of international operations Jason Baker said.
He said that the abuse was in fact worse than drinking a beverage derived from beans pulled from animal excrement.
'Although unappetizing, drinking coffee made from beans that were plucked from feces isn't the most revolting aspect of civet coffee.'
PETA had conducted a three-month-long investigation in the Philippines and Indonesia, which included visits to eight civet coffee farms in Sumatra and Java where it found caged civets exhibiting severely distressed behavior, such as incessant pacing, spinning around, chewing on bars and head-wobbling.
The animal rights group also found that civets were generally caged for a maximum of three years before being released back into the wild, where some of them failed to readapt and died.
Civet coffee beans, which unroasted can fetch a price of US$200 per kilogram, used to be produced naturally by wild civets in coffee plantations eating and excreting the beans. After passing through the animal's digestive tract, it's said the beans become less acidic and acquire a smooth taste.
'While there may be wild-sourced production out there, we're having a hard time finding it,' Baker said. 'Everyone is claiming to sell wild civet [coffee], but they can't prove it.'
One of companies PETA visited that misrepresented the source of its product was Che Nung Kopi Luwak, located in Lampung, Sumatra.
PETA alleged that the company had put a wild-sourced label on its packaging, when actually its coffee came from caged civets.
Daryad Hadi, one of owners of Che Nung Kopi Luwak said that PETA had wrongfully accused the company, as it had never labeled any of its products as wild-sourced.
'All civets were taken from the wild, but not the coffee beans,' he said. 'I always say to my customers that the civet coffee beans that we produce all come from caged civets, simply because we are trying to control the quality,' Daryad told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Daryad also rejected PETA's claim that some of his civets were abused.
'No civets are harmed in our facility. The civets are all given nutritious food, including fruits. We never force them to keep eating coffee cherries. They only eat the cherries after they have eaten proper meals,' he said.
Daryad said that Che Nung farms had around 20 civets that could produce up to 300 kg of coffee beans per month, with around 10 percent of the coffee beans being exported to China.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Coffee Exporters and Industry Association (AEKI) deputy chairman Pranoto Sunarto said almost none of the civet specialty coffee was collected in the wild.
'We couldn't collect the beans in the wild and process them. We couldn't guarantee the quality, and it definitely wouldn't taste as good as what came from the caged civets,' Pranoto said on Thursday.
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