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Cruelty in a Cup: Bali's Kopi Luwak Industry Exposed

It's the live-animal industry that no one is talking about, and it's already been linked to one disease outbreak- SARS. A new PETA exposé warns tourists about a certain coffee that may be brewing the next pandemic.

Made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet, or civet cat, this coffee, which is known as “kopi luwak” or “cat poop coffee,” can be found in cafés and coffee gardens in Bali, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Unsuspecting tourists from all over the world, particularly Australia, visit such cafés, where they're duped into buying the coffee and seeing the normally solitary civet cats in a setting that hides their cruel treatment. Now, tourists can see what really happens to civet cats who are exploited for coffee.

Eyewitnesses visited 10 civet farms in Bali that produce kopi luwak and found deplorable conditions at every single one. They also went to live-animal markets, where potentially sick civets are sold, and saw how easily they could spread deadly diseases to other animals, including humans. Watch the video and see for yourself how civets are suffering for this disgusting drink.

The Next Disease Outbreak Is Brewing

Kopi luwak is made by capturing Asian palm civets in their natural habitat in Indonesia when they're about 6 months old or by buying them at live-animal markets, confining them to miserably small cages, and feeding them an unhealthy, unnatural diet of primarily coffee berries; and then harvesting the coffee beans that they excrete in their faeces. The coffee is exported all over the world, even though following the SARS outbreak in China, researchers found that the SARS coronavirus had jumped from civet cats to humans. Scientists have also identified civet cats as a possible "intermediate host" for COVID-19, potentially allowing the virus to mutate and pass from bats to humans.

Civet cats who are "lucky" enough to survive beyond their usefulness to the kopi luwak industry can sometimes be sold to live-animal markets, just like the one in which the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, putting them in direct contact with humans and providing the perfect opportunity for SARS or some other virus to mutate and jump from one host to another.

Civet cats in Bali are forced to eat far more coffee berries than they naturally would.

Cruelty in a Cup

In addition to the infection risk that civet farms and sellers pose, investigators found pervasive cruelty at every farm they visited. Civet cats were commonly confined to barren, filthy cages encrusted with faeces, dirt, and decomposing berries and often covered with cobwebs.

These nocturnal animals were kept mostly in outdoor cages in the sunlight with no dark, quiet spot to sleep in during the day, adding to their misery and poor health. Some panted constantly in the heat.

Many had painful open wounds for which they did not appear to receive any medical care, and they exhibited abnormal behaviour such as biting their own tails and repeatedly pacing back and forth, indicating severe psychological distress.

Investigators saw one civet cat who appeared to be blind but was still being used for kopi luwak production.

What you really pay for when you try kopi luwak in Bali.

Labelling Lies

While kopi luwak is often advertised as "wild-sourced", one farmer told an eyewitness that it would be nearly impossible to produce it exclusively wild-sourced and that the industry deliberately mislabels coffee from captive civet cats.

The producer admitted that they may collect a small amount of faeces produced by free-roaming wild civet cats in the forest and mix it in with the faeces produced by the caged civet cats so they can claim that their coffee is wild-sourced.

Kopi luwak coffee beans are excreted by imprisoned, unhealthy civets who are denied everything that is natural and important to them.

It's Time to Cut the Crap

Coffee made from beans excreted by imprisoned, stressed, unhealthy animals who have been deprived of everything that would make their lives worthwhile isn't a delicacy—it's a disgrace. And it's another pandemic in the making.

While kopi luwak is produced in Indonesia, PETA Asia's eyewitnesses visited farms that export it overseas. No matter where you are or what assurances you have received, please don't purchase or drink kopi luwak.

Once COVID-19 travel restrictions ease, Indonesia plans to capitalise on Australian tourism. Please help us spread the word to travellers about the suffering endured by civet cats for kopi luwak. Sign up for our campaign and be sure to opt in to our e-mails, and we'll send you a quick daily action every day for four days that you can take from your smartphone or computer to help civet cats.

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