Composition and properties of Indonesian palm civet coﬀee
(Kopi Luwak) and Ethiopian civet coﬀee
Massimo F. Marcone
Department of Food Science, Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph, Ont., Canada N1G 2W1
Received 19 May 2004; accepted 25 May 2004
This research paper reports on the ﬁndings of the ﬁrst scientiﬁc investigation into the various physicochemical properties of the
palm civet (Kopi Luwak coﬀee bean) from Indonesia and their comparison to the ﬁrst African civet coﬀee beans collected in
Ethiopia in eastern Africa. Examination of the palm civet (Kopi Luwak) and African civet coﬀee beans indicate that major physical
diﬀerences exist between them especially with regards to their overall color. All civet coﬀee beans appear to possess a higher level of
red color hue and being overall darker in color than their control counterparts. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that all civet
coﬀee beans possessed surface micro-pitting (as viewed at 10,000Â magniﬁcation) caused by the action of gastric juices and digestive
enzymes during digestion. Large deformation mechanical rheology testing revealed that civet coﬀee beans were in fact harder and
more brittle in nature than their control counterparts indicating that gestive juices were entering into the beans and modifying the
micro-structural properties of these beans. SDS–PAGE also supported this observation by revealing that proteolytic enzymes were
penetrating into all the civet beans and causing substantial breakdown of storage proteins. Diﬀerences were noted in the types of
subunits which were most susceptible to proteolysis between civet types and therefore lead to diﬀerences in maillard browning
products and therefore ﬂavor and aroma proﬁles. This was conﬁrmed by electronic nose analysis which revealed diﬀerences between
the palm civet coﬀee (Kopi Luwak) and African civet coﬀee aroma proﬁles. Analytical techniques for the authentiﬁcation of palm
civet (Kopi Luwak) and African civet coﬀee are also explored. It would appear that SDS–PAGE may serve as the most reasonable
and reliable test to help conﬁrm the authenticity of civet coﬀee. Electronic nose data was able to distinguish both civet coﬀees from
their control counterparts and further indicated that processing through the civets gastro-intestinal track substantially modiﬁed
Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Kopi Luwak; African civet; Comparison; Composition
Coﬀee is grown in over 80 countries around the world
which lie within 1000 miles north and south of the
equator. Of the many varieties grown world-wide a few
varieties have achieved a special reputation and notoriety
based upon their rarity and overall ﬂavor. Of these Ja-
maican Blue Mountain and Tanzanian Peaberry are the
most notable and as such command a premium price.
Although these coﬀees are in short supply, no coﬀee is
perhaps in shorter supply and has a more distinct ﬂavor
and history than a coﬀee called Kopi Luwak from In-
donesia. With an annual production of under 500 pounds
and a price tag of 600 dollars (Canadian) per pound, it
commands the undisputed reputation of being the rarest
and most expensive coﬀee or beverage in the world.
Although Kopi Luwak (the Indonesian words for
coﬀee and civet) comes from the Indonesian islands of
Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi, it is not its exotic location
of origins but rather its unusual and quite unexpected
method of production which contribute to its mystique
and price. The desire to consume unique food products
is a characteristic of passionate coﬀee drinkers. To this
end, an unique coﬀee emerged from the jungles of In-
donesia and became know as Kopi Luwak in the West.
This is indeed a rare and unique coﬀee as it is processed
in the digestive system of the indigenous palm civet
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Food Research International 37 (2004) 901–912