Taiwan to begin new ‘civet coffee’ exports


TAIPEI — Taiwan will begin exporting a new brand of luxury coffee to Japan in early March, marking a successful step in its efforts to produce high-end “civet coffee” by nontraditional means, an exporter said yesterday. Using in vitro fermentation technology developed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Taiwan Bean Store Co. is now making “Formosan Civet Coffee,” after more than two years of work, said the company’s CEO Catherine Tai.

The brand was developed using locally grown coffee cherries and four probiotics to produce a flavor and fragrance similar to civet coffee, Tai told CNA.

“The technology saves the trouble (of having to go though the normal in vivo process) but produces the same quality coffee,” she said. “It is safe, hygienic and humanitarian.”

Original civet coffee, also known as kopi luwak, is produced by feeding coffee beans to a cat-like mammal called an Asian palm civet, then harvesting the fermented beans from its feces.

Civet coffee can be priced as high as US$100 a cup because of its classification as a luxury product.

The first shipments of the Taiwanese civet coffee brand will arrive in Japan next week but will not go on sale until early March, according to Taiwan Bean Store.

Tai declined to reveal the exact price, saying only that it will be sold at about half the cost of original civet coffee. In the first year of production, the output value of the new coffee brand is expected to reach NT$16.2 million, and it is very likely to increase over the following years, she said.

Taiwan produces some 700 tons of coffee each year, mostly for the domestic market, according to government statistics.