Sale of kopi luwak in Indonesia

By Joys Tan

While travelling in Indonesia late last year (Aug – Dec 2014), Henrietta and I chanced upon the sale of kopi luwak in various places separately. Here are some pictures taken by us:

1. Central Java

On flight to Indonesia, Henrietta noticed an advertisement of kopi luwak in the magazine. It wasn’t unexpected as Indonesia is its place of origin.


A kopi luwak ad in AirAsia magazine. Photo by Henrietta Woo.


Sale of kopi luwak at a store in Borobudur, Magelang. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

2. Bali

Bali has numerous coffee plantations and agro-tourism centred around them are heavily marketed with a seemingly high take-up rate among tourists. Read about the Pearlynn’s recount at a kopi luwak farm in Bali early last year here.


Entering a coffee plantation in Bali. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

What first struck me was the obvious lack of vegetation cover for the civet to hide and lack of branches for the civet to climb or sleep on.The floor was concrete, bare and covered with what appears to be algae. Nearby, a civet was spotted exposed and resting on sparse vegetation cover, with sunlight shining directly onto it. Civets are nocturnal animals and in a natural setting, they would seek out a sheltered place to rest.


A typical cage for housing civets in the plantation. Photo by Henrietta Woo.


A snoozing civet. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

Just one of the many sellers, the name ‘Smiling Coffee’ is pretty ironic.


Poster in the store by Smiling Coffee. Photo by Henrietta Woo.


Sale of kopi luwak by Smiling Coffee. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

Kopi luwak is (unfortunately) widely sold in the big supermarket at Ubud and at the airport.Bali18

Bali17  Bali21

3. Batam

Also in Batam, kopi luwak was spotted in a provision store near the ferry terminal. There are two brands on the shelf: Mandailing Estate Coffee and Gunawan Brother Indonesia.


Kopi Luwak Liar. Photo by Joys Tan.


Mandailing Estate Coffee. Photo by Joys Tan.


The certificate of authenticity does not guarantee that the kopi luwak is wild. Photo by Joys Tan.

Mandailing Estate Coffee states that it produces “authentic wild kopi luwak“, “certified premium kopi luwak” and “processed naturally in the wild” on its packaging. It even had a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ attached. Regardless of how awesome it sounded, I was not convinced at all. After some research, I knew my intuition was right – it is not true at all.. In the campaign document published by Tony Wild, the founder of Kopi Luwak: Cut the Crap, it stated that:

“There is currently no independent certification body for wild kopi luwak. Any such certificate is issued by the plantation, shipper or retailer itself, and, as such, is meaningless. Other certificates may contain an assurance that the kopi luwak does come from a certain plantation or district. This gives no guarantee that the kopi luwak is wild.” (Section 6, p13)
Until there is an independent certification body to identify ethically wild-sourced kopi luwak, not supporting its sale or trade anywhere can go a long way in reducing demand and thereby allowing civets to continue living in the wild. If this resonates with you, join us by pledging your support.

Highlights of Asia for Animals Conference 2014


By Joys Tan

Hosted by ACRES, the Asia for Animals Conference (AFA), which took place in Singapore on 13-17 January 2014, brought together numerous animal welfare organisations in Asia. It provided a platform for networking opportunities as well as discussions of pertinent issues. I was extremely pleased to be a part of it.

I had the invaluable opportunity to meet many like-minded individuals from the different animal welfare groups out there. Like Project LUWAK SG, their main mission is to push for the humane treatment and protection of animals. Elephants (ivory) and sharks (sharks’ fin) are regularly featured in the news. Battles to put an end to the senseless trades continue to be waged, lost and sometimes won. Although the kopi luwak trade was not strongly featured during AFA, several lessons could be drawn from efforts to tackle similar trades. 

A representative from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) explained that ivory, as with many other products implicated in the wildlife trade, remains a coveted item by wealthy families. Efforts taken by IFAW include urging online shopping websites such as Tao Bao to implement zero tolerance policies to ivory trade. Emphasis was also placed on the importance of strengthening policies, enhancing enforcement and stigmatizing the possession of ivory by destroying existing stocks or seized shipments. Such steps have been taken in China and Hong Kong.

Several success stories provide testament to the unwavering perseverance of animal activists. Public awareness campaigns led by shark conservation groups, animal welfare activists and the alike, led to governments in China and Hong Kong announcing a ban of shark fin soup in official state banquets. On top of that, many hotels, airline companies and restaurants have also responded positively by removing shark fin soup off their menu. In Singapore, supermarkets such as Cold Storage and NTUC Fairprice have removed shark fin products off their shelves in recent years. Shark conservation groups such as Shark Savers continues to work with local celebrities to endorse their campaign ‘I’m FINished with Fins“.

Gladys and I also took the opportunity to introduce Project LUWAK SG through our newly printed decals, designed by Sharon Bong and sponsored by SKL0.

Project LUWAK SG decal

To our delight, our stack of decals was gone by the end of the day! We also managed to speak to several conference delegates about Project LUWAK SG. Hopefully more people will learn about us and most importantly, about the cruelty behind the production of kopi luwak from caged civets.

Please help us to spread the word and get more people to pledge to not support the trade in any way. Every person counts! Learn more at