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Would you start the day with cats' bum coffee?

On Tuesday, possibly making a subtle comment about the trials of morning radio, Ian Dempsey drank coffee that had passed through a cat's arse. David McKernan of Java Republic was on hand to explain what was so special about this special Kopi Luwak coffee, aka a "crappuccino", which retailed at €68.49 a bag. (Here comes the science bit).

"[The cat] digests it in his juices, his acids and his enzymes and because they're so strong ... they actually go into the coffee bean ... and it comes out in his poo," said David.

Apparently the Dutch colonisers of Indonesia were formerly driven to distraction by palm civets -- cuddly-looking, savage cat yokes -- who liked nothing better than eating other people's coffee berries before pooing them all over the place. Luckily, the colonists quickly learned that the beans passed by these errant felines led to a tastier coffee.

Actually, I suspect that this is an early example of 'spin' and the man who first said: "Hey! It tastes better once it's been through a cat's arse!" gave a knowing wink and was instantly handed a 17th-century marketing award.



backside

"It comes out through his backside basically," said Ian, latching on to a key detail as though it were a coffee-bean in a colon.

"It comes out through his arse," corrected David, a stickler for the correct terminology.

During the boom, David explains, this cats' bum coffee was relatively popular. This is the sort of economic red flag the Department of Finance should probably have been watching out for. "People are spending ¤68 on coffee that's been pooed by a cat" is on page one of How To Spot An Overheating Economy.

Anyway, Kopi Luwak has been quaffed by Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List and Oprah Winfrey. And now it was affable Ian Dempsey's turn. Sadly there was no jewel-encrusted goblet on hand for this nectar-of-the-Gods/droppings-of-a-cat and Ian had to make do with a Matt Cooper promotional mug.

"That's all I could find in that kitchen," said David apologetically. "And I wouldn't say it's the cleanest of cups."

"Here's lookin' at you, Matt," chuckled Ian and the nation listened to the eager slurping of cat-filtered coffee.

"It's a very unusual taste," said Ian thoughtfully. "I don't know what the hell to say about it, actually. I just like drinking it. It seems very strong."

"They put it through the process of a cat," David reminded him after a bit of waffly banter.

"Oh yeah, I forgot about the cat," said Ian. "That went through a cat's arse. Jesus."

Last week Ian's Today FM colleague Ray D'Arcy, quite reasonably referred to the cat's arse the Church had made of Ireland. More specifically, he said: "The Catholic Church, in many ways, has f****d up this country."

On Monday, after calls for an apology, he stressed his respect for ordinary believers, but said: "There won't be a retraction because in my opinion the institutional Catholic Church has caused well-documented damage to this country ... We got your emails because there have been loads of emails, but there will be no apology and no retraction. Good morning." Then he played Graceland by Paul Simon.



abandoned

Throughout the week brave women and men spoke eloquently on radio about how they had been abandoned by the State to face bereavement alone and unsupported in a foreign country, because their unborn children were destined never to survive outside the womb.

The thought of people like Sarah McGuinness and Ruth Foley (on Wednesday's Last Word) or Maurice Shiels (on Monday's Breakfast) being treated compassionately by British counsellors, priests and medical staff, against a backdrop of post-Catholic apathy and silence at home, should be a cause for great shame.

Their willingness to speak out, despite the pain, should be a cause for pride.

Elsewhere there were other examples of human resilience.

On Wednesday, Ed Vuillamy, a melancholy-voiced former war correspondent during the brutal Bosnian War, told Pat Kenny of survivors finding redemption through "humour, family, alcohol, football, joie-de-vivre".

When asked how people coped, he quoted someone who said: "I survive because I am a man who laughs at the jokes that are more sad than funny." It was powerful stuff.


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