I ain’t the kind who springs out of bed in the morning all bright-eyed. I stagger to the kitchen, start the coffee maker, stare at it until it fills a cup and carry that to the bathroom to sip while I make myself beautiful.

Which is where I am one morning when I hear blam-blam-blam on my front door. It is my brothers-in-law, Lurch and Leech. They hand me a cup of coffee.

It ain’t a disposable cup from CC’s. It is a coffee mug from their own kitchen with “Busted at Hooters!” on it.
“You brung me a cup of coffee from home?” I say.

“We made it ourselves,” says Leech. They sit on my couch and look up at me.

I give it a sniff. Something is wrong here.

I say “thank you,” and excuse myself and take it with me back to the bathroom. I finish fixing my face and come back with the empty cup.

Lurch says, “Is it smooth and chocolately? No bitter after-taste?” I nod, and they beam at each other. Then Leech says, “Gotta go,” and they both jump up and leave. Just like that. Lurch comes back and takes the Hooters cup, with just the dregs in it.

It takes me some phone calls and computer time to figure out what that’s about. But I do.

Good thing I got a strong stomach.

A couple months back, Leech and Lurch heard on the radio about these new fancy-schmancy coffee beans that rich people buy for hundreds of dollars a pound.

Naturally, there’s a reason it costs so much. You got to process it through a cat.

It is a civet cat, which lives in the Philippines and eats wild cherries which happen to contain coffee beans. It is probably like Red Bull for cats. Anyway, when this cat does his business, out come the coffee beans. One morning, somebody who must have been real desperate for coffee, cleaned these beans off and brewed them. Well, come to find out, it was the best cup of coffee he had ever tasted, “smooth and chocolatey with no bitter after-taste.”

Anyway, that’s how he explained why he was digging around in cat doo-doo. (I found out this part on the Internet.)

Next, this person – possibly a relative of Bernie Madoff – convinced rich people to pay a lot of money for it because a) they had a lot of money, and b) they weren’t willing to personally root around in doo-doo. (Obviously, they didn’t have little kids or grandkids. Some of us do that every time the car keys are missing.)

So Leech and Lurch get the brilliant idea that if Philippine cats can do this, it’s high time the cats around here start earning their keep.

Now my daughter Gumdrop has two cats: Rocky and Carlos. Lurch says any cat from Chalmette can do anything a cat from the Philippines does, and probably do it better. Leech and Lurch still live in Chalmette with their mother, Ms. Larda, but Gumdrop and her family have moved to Folsom. Lurch and Leech know it’ll be a problem getting the cats to eat coffee without letting Gumdrop know, and they’re pretty sure she won’t approve.

Then they have a stroke of luck. Gumdrop invites us all to a crawfish boil at her house. Leech secretly brings a bag of coffee beans, slips over to the dish of kitty kibble, dumps the beans in, and then shakes it around to mix it.

A few minutes later, Gumdrop corrals her little boy, Go-Cup, who hates to have his diaper changed. She has him pinned to the floor with one leg slung over him to keep him still and a cookie to keep him quiet. They are out of sight behind a chair when my brothers-in-law wander into the room. Leech is wondering out loud how long it’ll take coffee beans to go through the cats. Lurch says judging by how long it takes coffee to go through him, it won’t be long. Leech says he’ll check the litter box in 30 minutes.

Now Gumdrop is no dummy, and she happens to have heard about this civet cat coffee. She also knows, from experience, how uncles Leech and Lurch think. She puts it all together. She don’t want two caffeinated cats rushing around the house like the Energizer Bunny. Her kids are bad enough.

So she goes to the cat dish, pours water over the whole mess and scrapes it into the litter box. Let’s see what Leech thinks of that, she says to herself.

And after everybody leaves that evening – Leech holding a bulging plastic bag away from himself – she notices the litter has been changed. She smirks.

At home, Lurch and Leech set up an old window screen on sawhorses, pour the litter through and, using Ms. Larda’s rubber gloves, pick out everything that looks like a bean. They tie this up in the net bag that Ms. Larda uses for her delicates and run it through the washing machine.

Next morning, they grind it all up, put it in the coffee maker and – voila – they got cat coffee. Or something.
Neither of them has the stomach to drink it, and Ms. Larda turns them down flat, being kind of mad about her net bag. So they brung it to me.

Now, I was telling a little white lie about that coffee. One whiff was enough. So when I went to the bathroom, I dumped it down the sink and poured the coffee I had left on the back of the commode into the Hooters cup.

I should’ve told the truth. Leech and Lurch bag it up and even make a special label featuring a picture of a cat from behind, with its tail up, for that humorous touch.

But Chalmette Cat Coffee ain’t a hit. Even rich people got some sense, I guess.

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