Kumbakonam Crappuccino

Before the world deals with the threats of ISIS and al-Qaeda, I think it will be better served if it focuses its energies on handling the more pressing problem of elephant dung coffee — a brew that is made out of coffee beans that have been consumed and — I can already feel the rising aroma — excreted by elephants. Yes, it’s coffee from elephant poop.

No, this is not a joke. The news was all over the newspapers last month. Probably you might have missed it because the report didn’t feature any photograph of a young woman (Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Nobody reads anything that isn’t accompanied by pics of young females. Exhibit A: Legal documents).

Be that as it may, my first reaction upon reading the news of elephant dung coffee was one of extreme, worry, worry that I will be even more confused when I have to make a choice at these new-fangled coffee shops.

My conversations at these counters tend to be on these lines:

Me: Can I have a coffee?

Counterperson: Sure. How would you like it?

Me: I would like it to be a coffee.

Counterperson: No, sir, you want a Cappuccino, Americano, Cafe au Lait, Mocha, Frappe…?

Me: What are these? New rap artists?

Counterperson: (Trying desperately to avoid openly sighing) (Pointing to the menu) They are all different varieties of coffee that we have, sir. They are all names based on what they contain and in what proportion.

Me: Do you have something that contains 1/3 decoction, 2/3 milk and a spoon of sugar? I don’t know what you may want to call it, but it better be hot, too.

Counterperson: I am afraid that we don’t have it, sir

Me: By the way, is that mocha? Or it’s just a spelling mistake of moocha? Looking at the stuff that people here are drinking, I’ll be surprised if it isn’t the case.

Okay, I didn’t ask the previous line. But the point is today’s coffee shops have everything except that which is actually coffee. And you have young men and women queuing up enthusiastically for these mutant beverages and sipping them with practised gusto. My personal theory is when people start appreciating such drinks, they also start appreciating Yo Yo Honey Singh as a musical whiz.

Getting back to the elephant dung coffee, I went and read about it on the internet and found it touted as one of the most expensive coffees in the world. A cup of coffee is priced at around 50$, which makes you wonder why they are poaching elephants for their ivory tusk when their poop is practically capable of earning more.

The process of getting elephant dung coffee is simple and straightforward: 1) Herd a few elephants 2) Feed them coffee beans. They will try to trample you. Don’t worry. This is normal. Anyone who is fed just a few coffee beans is bound to be angry. 4) So don’t be an idiot. Give them their regular food too 4) Pull a comfortable chair and put it near elephant’s posterior and wait for it to poop. 6) If the dung falls on you, it means you are sitting too close to the elephant’s back. 5) Pull your chair back. Allow the dung to fall on the ground, collect it and sift the undigested coffee beans from it. 7) Wash the seeds of the dung and send them to be processed into coffee powder.

The coffee has been described as ‘very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee’, which is great news because the whole thing has travelled all the way through the digestive track of an elephant and emerged out of its rear orifice. It is said that when the coffee seeds are in the elephant’s stomach a process of ‘natural fermentation’ occurs, and ‘special flavours are imparted to the seeds’. You move on to the next paragraph, while I go and puke in the toilet and come back.

The makers of the coffee are worried that the beans are sometimes not recoverable as they are chewed by the elephants, become fragmented and are unable to be sifted out of the dung. Correct me if I am wrong here, in other words the coffee company would be happy if the elephants experienced — keep a tissue handy — diarrhoea.

But make no mistake about it, the whole thing will soon become popular as it has one quality that the modern, discerning generation looks for in any product — it is expensive. It is only a matter of days before the thing shows up in your local coffee café.

I am already sure what I am going to hear: ‘Sir, do you want Cappuccino, Americano, Frappe, Cafe au latrine de elephant?’