Question:

Is Civet Coffee kosher?

Answer:

Your question is very interesting.

Civet coffee or Kopi_ Luwak is produced by the civet cat. Coffee cherries are given to a civet cat to eat and digested by the cat, and then excreted. The coffee beans are taken out of the excrement, dried and roasted. The issue at hand, (besides that it may “ba’al tshaktzu” to eat something like this) is if the rule of “Yotzei Min Hatamei” applies here. (This rule is that anything that exits from a non kosher animal etc. that it is also not permitted to eat etc.) Although the actual beans did not actually come from the cat, but were eaten, the cat’s enzymes however are inside it and what made the changes to the beans.

Although it is controversial, most Rabbinic authorities that I have consulted said that regarding Yotzei Min Hatamei it should be alright. The reasons being that the actual beans didn’t come from the cat, therefore it is similar to bee’s honey, which is permitted because the bee didn’t produce the honey: it only processed it and changed it from the flower into honey.

Regarding the enzymes that are from the cat that is also not an issue we don’t consider excrement as part of the actual animal, it is considered “pirsha b’alma”, and therefore the above issue doesn’t apply.

There are to other factors here that might make drinking this coffee impractical. First of all if there are flavors added to the coffee, it would need a rabbinical supervision, and I don’t think there is any such coffee with such supervision. Secondly even if the coffee isn’t flavored, we must be cautious that the coffee is authentic, since it is very expensive, and there are many imitations of it around, which are adding all sorts of different flavorings and additives etc. to give it a similar taste.

Sources:

Y:D 91-8, Rambam Hilchos Maachalos Asuros 4-20, Rabbis from the OU and Star-k.

Tags: coffee

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