Bat Spit Coffee is Madagascar’s most expensive coffee. The main factor of it’s high price is the uncommon method of producing such a coffee. This coffee is produced from the coffee beans that have been nibbled by a bat.
Wild bats chewing on ripe coffee berries results in a reaction between their digestive fluids and outside air that gives a uniquely smooth flavour, say customers, sending demand for an already expensive speciality bourbon pointu coffee soaring to nearly $110 per pound (₦39,600/kg).
Farmers around the world are turning to premium and rare beans, some including an animal touch, to shore up their incomes amid a global production glut that has driven down prices.
But this may be the first time such coffee is being commercially produced in Africa, said Matthew Harrison, a buyer at speciality coffee sourcing company, Trabocca.
Madagascar used to produce mainly lower-quality robusta beans used in instant coffees, but now farmers are going into the production of bourbon pointu beans, a premium variety of higher-priced arabica coffee.
“Before, most people here in Itasy did not have any interest in growing coffee,” said Ravaonasolo, president of a local coffee group. “Today it’s become our livelihood.”
Bourbon pointu sells domestically for about $101 per pound (₦39,600/kg), more than 50 times the price of commodity-grade coffee. A bit of bat spit pushes the price higher.
Wild bats chewing on ripe coffee berries results in a reaction between their digestive fluids and outside air that gives a uniquely smooth flavour, say customers.
It’s the brainchild of farmer and agricultural entrepreneur Jacques Ramarlah.
Two years ago, he reintroduced bourbon pointu beans to the area from nearby Reunion Island. He later introduced bat coffee after observing them nibbling the best beans.
Now, Ramarlah works with about 90 farmers who send him beans for processing and marketing, some at his on-farm restaurant.
“Next year, we will ask farmers to focus only on the coffee (beans) chewed by bats, this means the farmers will harvest only the mature seeds and that will improve the quality of our harvest.” he told Reuters.
Madagascar’s animal-enhanced coffee is not unique – Southeast Asia’s Kopi Luwak coffee is made from beans salvaged from civet cat poop; Thailand has elephant dung coffee; and there’s a Costa Rican bat coffee similar to Ramarlah’s.
Extremely high-value coffee is a very niche market, but it is growing, said Harrison, the Trabocca buyer.