Vancouver's 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters have enlisted the aid of some unlikely workers in Southern India to help harvest the best coffee beans -- rhesus macaque monkeys.
The coffee critters, who work for peanuts, pick only the few sweetest beans from each plant, which they then store in their mouths for several hours while sucking on the "cherry" fruit before spitting out the inner bean.
A worker then collects the spat-out beans and they are cleaned and roasted, making his job slightly better than the person whose job it is to collect the Kopi Luwak -- Sumatran beans harvested from the droppings of civet cats.
"The wild monkeys seek out the sweetest cherries," president Vince
Piccolo explained yesterday after returning from a coffee conference in Minneapolis, Minn.
"It is like us eating an apricot and spitting out the pit. I find the coffee to be extremely sweet with low acidity."
Only four or five sacks of the masticated beans called Indian SL 795 Devon Estates Arabica were produced and Piccolo got his hands on three of them, which he plans to serve as single-origin espresso and not blended with anything else.
The SL 795 will be available in the company's Kitsilano store at 2152 West 4th Ave. beginning tomorrow.
"It is only in limited amounts," said Piccolo. "This is a unique discovery and we want out customers to have great coffee."
Piccolo expects the 12-ounce bags, which sell for $25, to sell out quickly.