Durham County

Duke’s lemurs now have a latte named for them. Take a sip and help a sifaka.

The Duke Lemur Center and Joe Van Gogh have created a Sifaka Latte to benefit the center.
The Duke Lemur Center and Joe Van Gogh have created a Sifaka Latte to benefit the center. Duke Lemur Center

If you like lemurs and lattes, purchasing one of the drinks from a local coffee roaster will give you a taste of spices from Madagascar and allow you to contribute to the Duke Lemur Center.

The Lemur Center and Joe Van Gogh coffee roasters have created a Sifaka Latte made from a syrup with spices from Madagascar, where the sifakas and other varieties of lemurs are native. Coffee lovers may purchase the lattes from Joe Van Gogh’s shop in the Bryan Center on Duke University’s West Campus. For every latte sold, Joe Van Gogh will contribute 25 cents to the Lemur Center.

The syrup used in the latte has sweet potatoes, lemongrass, clove, star anise, and sugar, the Van Gogh website states. The Duke café’s management team created the latte flavors.

The Lemur Center and the coffee roaster have similar conservation goals, said Sara Clark, director of communications for the Lemur Center. When the coffee company approached the Lemur Center, the latte “seemed like a very natural connection,” Clark said.

The inclusion of sweet potatoes has special significance, Clark said. In its work in Madagascar, the center is trying to encourage the Malagasy people to convert to sweet potatoes as a cash crop instead of rice, she said. Rice is not native to the island, and growing it requires slash-and-burn agriculture techniques that destroy the forests, and habitat for lemurs.

The sifaka are endangered. The Duke Lemur Center manages all sifakas in North America, meaning that sifakas at other zoos or reserves are raised at the Duke center, Clark said.

The Sifaka Latte will be available for a limited time.

Cliff Bellamy: 919-419-6744, @CliffBellamy1