Indian start-up's new civet dung coffee is no flash in the pan

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India has made its first foray into fecal coffee, albeit at a scale that will not flush away Indonesia, its biggest producer.

Although India is the third-biggest grower and exporter of coffee, only one company has embarked on producing luwak coffee. Traditionally a delicacy from Java and Sumatra, it is made from beans collected from the excrement of the civet cat.

Coorg Consolidated Commodities, a Karnataka start-up, began production of the world’s most expensive coffee in 2015 under the Ainmane brand name.  

That year, it manufactured just 60kg, which increased to 200kg in 2016. This year, it hopes production will grow to 500kg, Narendra Hebbar, its founder, said. 

The company sources the civet dung from plantations that are popular with the animal, where they come to eat the ripest coffee bean cherries.

“The civet cat eats the flesh of the coffee cherries and not the bean. Natural enzymes in civet’s stomach enhances the bean flavour and that’s why this coffee is unique,” Hebbar told PTI.

“We produce it in natural form, unlike in other countries where civet cats are caged and forcefully fed with coffee beans.”

Hebbar’s luwak is available for INR8,000 (US$125) per kilo—far less than global prices which can reach as much as US$390 per kilo on the world market.

However, the requirement for expensive certification means it is not likely that Indian civet coffee will be available internationally in the near future, given the current low levels of production. 

In the meantime he is focusing on promoting the coffee locally and opening up a cafe where it will sell luwak alongside cappuccino and espresso.

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