Civet coffee beans picked from dung possibly 'unclean,' say Muslim clerics

Civet coffee, which comes from the dung of civet cats, is known as the world's most expensive coffee. Islamic leaders in Indonesia could make a ruling on the cleanliness of civet coffee as early as Tuesday.

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File
In this Oct. 27, 2004 file photo, a civet cat climbs a coffee tree to eat ripe cherries at a farm in Indang, Cavite province in Philippines. Indonesia's top Islamic body said it may forbid followers from drinking the world's most expensive coffee, extracted from the dung of a civet cat, over concerns it is unclean.

Indonesia's top Islamic body says it may forbid followers from drinking the world's most expensive coffee — extracted from the dung of a civet cat — over concerns it is unclean.

Kopi Luwak is made from hard beans that have been eaten by the nocturnal critters and then fermented in their stomachs before being pooped out and roasted. It's highly prized for its smooth flavor and bitterless aftertaste, sometimes fetching well over $200 a pound ($440 per kilogram) online.

Maruf Amien, acting head of the powerful Ulema Council, said a ruling on whether Muslims should be banned from drinking the brew could be made as early as Tuesday. He said the key issue is whether or not the coffee is clean.

"God willing it will be an easy decision," said Amien. "If the farmers clean the beans before they are grinded, they are halal, or legitimate, and there won't be a problem."

Kopi Luwak is produced on several Indonesian islands, spanning from Sumatra in the west to Sulawesi in the east, but it also can be found under different names elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Only 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) are said to be produced annually worldwide.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. The influential Ulema Council often issues fatwas, or edicts, including several controversial rulings against smoking and yoga. Its edicts are not legally binding, but many devout Muslim abide by them.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.