In the rich volcanic soils of central Madagascar’s Itasy province grows a rare and fragrant coffee coveted by bats and humans alike. The twist: humans want it even more after the bats have nibbled on it.
Bat spit gives the beans a uniquely smooth flavor, say consumers, sending demand for an already expensive speciality bourbon pointu coffee soaring to nearly $110 per pound (220 euros/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, buyer at speciality coffee sourcing company Trabocca.
Madagascar used to produce mainly lower-quality robusta beans used in instant coffees, but now farmers like Nirina Malala Ravaonasolo are producing 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.”
Workers at the Kafen Drazana packaging factory in Ampefy town of Itasy region, Madagascar January 24, 2020. (Reuters)