07/22/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA - ISLAM
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Indonesian Ulema allow civet coffee

by Mathias Hariyadi
After a long diatribe, the country's highest Islamic authority has banned the "Kopi Luwak" coffee from beans partially digested by civet cats. One of the most expensive drinks in the world.

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Indonesian Ulema Council - the highest Muslim religious authority in the country - has decided to allow the consumption of the most expensive coffee in the world, "Kopi Luwak", despite being made from beans eaten, partly digested and then defecated by a small mammal, or the civet cat owl.

The discussion on the consumption of this drink has abounded in the Muslim world for years considered by the more hardlin wing "haram" forbidden in the religious sense and therefore unfit for consumption. But after the plenary meeting, the Council decided not to publish a fatwa banning the "civet coffee” to Muslims.

"After a long discussion, we decided that drinking Luwak coffee is not a sin," said Ma'rouf Amien, chairman of the highest religious authority in the country. "It is not prohibited as long as the coffee beans are passed under water to remove traces of excrement" he said.  

The "Luwak" is produced by the civet cats, small mammals similar to weasels, which eat the coffee beans. But they do not fully digest them and they are expelled, after being fermented, naturally. Once dried and roasted, they are used to prepare a traditional drink of coffee less bitter in taste with caramel and chocolate.

Worldwide, every year, just 200 pounds of Luwak coffee are produced, the price varies between 400 and 500 Euros per kilo. The civet, among others, was in the headlines a few years ago: a very common animal in Asia, it was one of the major carriers of the terrible SARS.

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