So, you’ve probably heard about Kopi Luwak coffee – the Indonesian variety made from coffee berries guzzled, digested and (ahem) excreted by Asian palm civets – but what about one made from bird droppings?

I hadn’t either, until I visited a little place I like to call The Source (known to most as Origin Coffee Roasting). If you’re fussy about your coffee (you know who you are), and care about the flavour of the beans, the consistency of the milk (assuming you don’t drink it straight), and the temperament of your barista – Origin is definitely the place for you.

And right now they’re offering up what is apparently one of the rarest coffees in the world: Jacu Bird coffee.

jacu-birdSo what’s the big deal? Well, much like the Kopi Luwak variety, Jacu Bird coffee also passes through the gut of an animal, only this time it’s a bird. These Brazilian forest birds love to eat coffee berries – the best and ripest ones, of course – and fly from bush to bush, leaving their droppings (containing the beans) on the floor below.

In most cases, this kind of wanton thievery of prized crops would either leave a farmer bereft, or incur rather eco-unfriendly penalties for the birds. But, a Brazilian farm called Camocim is taking a more novel approach: harvesting the droppings, and recovering the beans.

As a supporter of the natural flora and fauna of the farm, Camocim welcomes the Jacu Bird as a member of the farm’s agro-florestal system. Rather than think of the Jacu Bird as a pest, eating our finest coffee cherries, we saw the opportunity to employ the Jacu Bird as one of our finest manual coffee pickers. Once ingested, the Jacu Bird eliminates the digested beans which lie on the ground under the coffee trees. Our staff collects these odorless droppings, transports them to the drying areas where they are dried, cleaned and stored in their parchment for up to three months. (more)

Camocim Farm is organic and biodynamic, and what’s really cool is that the birds, which would otherwise be considered a nuisance, and pests, are now an important part of this holistic system.

Which would all be by the by if it wasn’t for the fact that it also tastes REALLY good.  Nutty, full-flavoured, and not a trace of bitterness.  I didn’t even add sugar (not that I usually add much anyway).  It was like drinking a glass of decadently good red wine, savouring every mouthful.

For real.

It’s a pity it’s grown so far away – not exactly a habit I’d want to get into, considering it has to be flown in all the way from Brazil.  And, seeing as it costs more than double (R40) what you’d normally pay for a flat white at Origin it’s not something I’d be able to get too attached to (R1,000 per kilo if you buy the beans!)…

But if you’re a coffee fundi, and are looking to try something new and unusual – it’s SO very worth it.

Origin Coffee Roasting is located at 28 Hudson Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town. Tel. +27 21 421 1000. Open Monday to Friday (7am-5pm) and Saturday (9am-3pm). If coffee’s not your thing: try their fab teahouse instead (it’s the real deal).
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