At first blush, kopi luwak would seem right at home in a list of exotic-sounding ingredients — cupuaçu, gotu kola, maqui berry — once heralded as the best new thing in beauty. With the unofficial title of the most expensive coffee in the world, the star ingredient in a three-piece line of anti-pollution skin care from luxury brand Hermetise is purported to have potent antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation, calm redness, and firm tired skin. Caffeine, when used topically, is good for those sorts of things.
But there’s one main difference between kopi luwak and your average cup o’ joe, which is that, unlike Starbucks Blonde Roast, kopi luwak is made from partially digested coffee cherries that have been fermented in the gastrointestinal tract of the Asian palm civet. But wait… partially digested? Gastrointestinal tract? Asian palm civet? Yep! Kopi luwak is coffee that’s been harvested from the coffee cherries eaten, then pooped out, by an adorable cat-like member of the family Viverridae.
Most commonly found in Indonesia, kopi luwak is a delicacy, not because it tastes that great or anything, but because it’s rare. You can track it down stateside for upwards of $25 a cup (like at Greenwich Village coffee shop Kopi Kopi in NYC), but if that seems expensive to you, then don’t even think about entertaining the cost of kopi luwak-infused skin care. Each step in the Hermetise collection will set you back a whopping $1,664, or you can get the three-piece set for $4,994 ($2 more than buying them individually, perplexingly enough). That’s a lot of money to pay for cat poop!
On a more serious note, the absurd price isn’t the reason we’ll be skipping out on the supposedly revolutionary anti-aging ingredient. While collecting feces from wild civets to make expensive coffee was traditionally kind of a happy accident in Indonesian culture, like the feces just happened to be there and they just happened to make coffee out of it, modern farming methods and increased demand have led to serious ethical concerns over the “horrific abuse” of civets kept in captivity for the purpose of harvesting kopi luwak. Fuck that shit — literally.