The origin of kopi luwak is closely connected with the history of coffee production in Indonesia. In the early 18th century the Dutch established the cash-crop coffee plantations in their colony in the Dutch East Indies islands of Java and Sumatra, including Arabica coffee introduced from Yemen. During the era of Cultuurstelsel (1830—1870), the Dutch prohibited the native farmers and plantation workers from picking coffee fruits for their own use. Still, the native farmers wanted to have a taste of the famed coffee beverage. Soon, the natives learned that certain species of musang or luwak (Asian Palm Civet) consumed the coffee fruits, yet they left the coffee seeds undigested in their droppings. The natives collected these luwaks' coffee seed droppings, then cleaned, roasted and ground them to make their own coffee beverage.The fame of aromatic civet coffee spread from locals to Dutch plantation owners and soon became their favorite, yet because of its rarity and unusual process, the civet coffee was expensive even in colonial times.
Kopi luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between US$100 and $600 per pound.The specialty Vietnamese weasel coffee, which is made by collecting coffee beans eaten by wild civets, is sold at $3,000 per kilogram (approx. $1,364 per pound). Most customers are Asian, especially those originating from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.Sources vary widely as to annual worldwide production.