Gourmet civet coffee off the menu at top hotels after Peta Asia campaign

Three luxury hotels stop serving civet coffee after animal rights investigation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 November, 2013, 6:28am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 November, 2013, 6:28am

Three luxury hotels in the city have stopped serving one of the world's most expensive coffees while others are considering taking the step after an investigation by animal rights campaigners.

Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, is made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by Asian palm civets.

This weasel-like creature has a taste for the ripe coffee cherries, and by the time the cherry pit, the green coffee bean, is excreted, the civet's digestive enzymes have embued it with a rich, chocolatey, earthy flavour. According to Hong Kong coffee specialists Graffeo, coffee gourmets here and on the mainland will spend US$400 on a kilogram bag of kopi luwak.

However, when Peta Asia investigated several civet coffee farms in Indonesia and the Philippines, two of the world's main producers, they found the animals were trapped in the wild then put into small, filthy cages, empty save for a bowl of coffee cherries. They are given no other food and are kept in the cages for years. Undercover video footage shows the civets exhibiting neurotic behaviour - incessant pacing, spinning, bar-biting and head-bobbing.

The report has resulted in the Langham Hotel and InterContinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Central taking the coffee of its menus.

A spokeswoman for the Langham Hotel, which had been serving kopi luwak for four years until last week, said: "When we saw the Peta video which showed all these animals in these cages being force fed it was quite horrendous, so it was decided that we'd support Peta's cause."

The InterContinental said it had been unaware of the cruelty associated with the coffee's production and had removed it from its menu. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental confirmed it was removing kopi luwak from its menus next month.