This Halal Coffee’s The Sh*t

Good news for Muslims who appreciate a good cup of decaffeinated defecated coffee.

civet cat coffeeIndonesia’s top Islamic body declared Tuesday that Muslims can drink civet coffee – the world’s most expensive coffee, which is extracted from the dung of civet cats.

A preacher recently suggested the beverage might not be “halal” – or religiously approved – because its unusual provenance makes it unclean. But after a long discussion Tuesday, the influential Indonesian Ulema Council said that the coffee, known locally as Kopi Luwak, could be consumed as long as the beans were washed.

Kopi Luwak, which takes it name from the Indonesian word for civets, 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. Civet cats are mongoose-like animals.

It’s highly prized for its smooth flavor and bitterless aftertaste, sometimes fetching well over $200 a pound ($440 per kilogram) online.

“Kopi Luwak can be declared ‘halal’ after passing through a washing process,” said Maruf Amien, acting head of the council. “Producing, selling and drinking it is allowed.”

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Kopi Luwak is produced in the main Java island, Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is also found under different names elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Only 450 kilograms are said to be produced annually worldwide.

The Ulema Council has often issued fatwas, or edicts, including several controversial rulings against smoking and yoga. Its edicts are not legally binding, but many devout Muslims abide by them.

Hey, it could be worse.

About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder and managing editor of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks

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  • juvanya

    Coffee tastes like that whether its predigested or not.

  • Norman B.

    I am a tea, soda and fruit juice drinker, thank you very much. At least, Israel can import its coffee from friendly Colombia and Costa Rica and not worry about its provenance.

  • Michael Zvi Krumbein

    On te other hand, Civet is not kosher. (Don't know about the coffee.)

    When people ask me why soda, for example, needs Rabbinic supervision, I tell them about the coloring Carmine, made from insects. Then I meantion the ingredient (not in sode) civet, made from cats, and their eyes bug out. Or why we need to check the lettuce. :-)

    • Shy Guy

      This coffee might only be Rabbinically forbidden but not by the Torah.

      Did the beans go through a digestive enzyme process that was Yad Soledet Bo? Are the enzymes absorded forbidden by the Torah or by Rabbinic prohibition? Whatever the case, there's no escaping the fact that it's Mukzah Machmat Mi'us! o.0

      Edit: Note that soda flavorings, not just coloring, may come from non-kosher ingredients.

      • Michael Zvi Krumbein

        I've been interested in Kashrut for a long time, and I always hear of civet as a questionable ingredient. As I said, there may be other forms of it, perhaps some taken directly from the animal. Perhaps it's not common enough for a formal determination. (P.S. Would it be HaYotzeh min Hatomeh?)

        While there are technical differences, something prohibited rabinically (Gallo wine, for example) in simply non-kosher, just as is something prohibited from the Torah. Or are you going to start telling me that bishul akum is kosher? (I avoided using "treif" for obvious reasons.)

        • Shy Guy

          Heaven forbid that I was trying to lessen the obligation or relevancy of a Rabbinical law. You should know me by now.

          I don't know if its a yotseh min hatameh. Unlike milk and honey, the been passes through the system. It is not a product of it.

          The Vaad Hoier of Cincinnati seems to say that it is not kosher in this article but still leaves us clueless as to whether it's a De'oreita of De'Rabanan.

          • Michael Zvi Krumbein

            ? Honey is Kosher.

  • Jim from Iowa

    What about the menu at McDonald's? Is that glatt kosher? Who knows what's in that secret sauce anyway? I think food company slogans have as much to do with their success as any other factor. "With a name like Smuckers it has to be good." "Nobody doesn't like Sarah Lee." I always thought the Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage slogan should have been: "If its treyfe, it has to be good." Their sales would have doubled.

    • Michael Zvi Krumbein

      The red ones are "trief", the blue ones kosher, the brown(?) ones dairy (McCafe). I have no idea if it's Glatt, or what Glatt even menas anymore (more of an issue for Sephardim, by the way), but I believe it's plain government rabinnical supervision, so I don't eat there. (My wife was so disappointed when I told her we couldn't go into the Burger King. I think there's a KFC and Pizza Hut I'd like to try, and I've been to SBarro.)

      Of course we never (at least from a certain age) ate Hebrew National. We held to "a higher standard". And my Dad is Modern Orthodox.

    • Michael Zvi Krumbein

      I had a lot of fun one day at work explaining why we check the lettuce. ("Insects are worse than pork." For that matter, arguably, a cheesebuger is worse if it is beef than if it is pork.) After all, not many people want to eat insects.

      All Rachel Carson's fault anyway. Not to mention millions of dead people in Africa from Malaria.

      • Michael Zvi Krumbein

        Thay may be high. Tens of thousands, anyway.

  • daniel

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