While I can embrace the invigorating morning aroma of freshly
brewed coffee percolating in the kitchen, I've never found the
taste as rewarding as the fragrance. Perhaps I should invest in
fancier blends, instead of buying the local discount store's
two-for-one, past used-by date, bargain brand, "Grounds for
For the true java adventurer, however, there are many exotic
coffees available in today's world market. As the name suggests,
Galapagos coffee is grown on one of the islands (San Cristobal)
that comprise the Galapagos archipelago, off the coast of
It sells for around $20 per pound and reportedly has "an intense
aroma, medium acidity, and round flavor" but with a hint of
"tobacco and leather." While not to my taste, it might appeal to
the Marlboro cowboy crowd.
One of the better-known exotic coffees is "processed" by Asian
palm civets, small cat-like critters with a fondness for coffee
berries. Stripped to the seeds by their digestive journey through
the civet's gastric system, the "beans" emerge imbued with a prized
aroma and flavor, and are then handpicked from the animals'
Unfortunately, the coffee's appeal quickly led to factory
farming, with animals being force-fed beans under appalling
conditions. This is another reason I won't be paying around $100
for a cup, even if it does make a great crapachino that's good to
the last drop.
Along these alimentary lines, elephants have recently been
charged with similar internal percolating duties in Thailand. The
beans are mixed with bananas and sugar cane, which the elephants
readily devour. This pachyderm passage reportedly infuses "unique
earthy and fruity flavors" into the emerging beans. Some lucky
worker then plucks the precious beans from mountains of elephant
dung in what has become an emerging big business.
If you prefer your coffee not to pass all the way through an
animal's digestive tract, perhaps monkey-chewed coffee might be
more to your taste. In India, Rhesus monkeys chew coffee
berries then spit out the beans, which are then collected for sale.
Enzymes in the monkey salvia break down the coffee giving it a
unique and saleable quality. I just hope this isn't how Hershey's
make their "Rhesus" peanut butter cups.
What surprises me, is that no one has attempted to duplicate
this process with other primates. Sure, it's a little gross, but
could coffee chomping humans impart personal traits to coffee
This idea needs to be tested. And who better to use than some of
our noted politicians. I believe we could even predict how
politically processed coffee beans might taste after being munched
on by specific individuals:
Mitt Romney coffee: Rich flavor, but a little oily for some
Michael Bloomberg coffee: Extremely rich flavor, but he would
only permit a limit of one 8-oz cup per customer in New York
John McCain coffee: Vintage flavor with a distinct sharpness
that develops with age.
Joe Biden coffee: Gives new meaning to the term "Cup of
Joe." But after processing, can sometimes be a little coarse.
Chris Christie coffee: Has a rare, fresh earthiness making it
memorable. Traditionally well balanced, with full, round body.
Sarah Palin coffee: Despite the attractive packaging, comes
across to many as a little nutty.
Nancy Pelosi coffee: Long past expiration date. Recycle.
John Boehner coffee: The House Speaker wouldn't actually be able
to digest the beans; they would cause an obstruction.
Ron Paul coffee: Combined nutty and winey characteristics make
it unique, but largely ignored.
Barack Obama coffee: Refreshing initially, but invigorating
flavor dwindles with time.
Ted Cruz coffee: Being relatively new on the market it will
develop a reputation for boldness. But with more than a hint of
fruitiness, should probably be certified.
Upon reflection, think I'll stick with my discount brand until
Glade comes out with a realistic coffee scented room freshener.
Thomas' features and columns have appeared
in more than 300 magazines and newspapers, and he is the author of
"Raised by the Stars," published by