By David Batty and agencies
Doctors have long argued over the health effects of coffee, but its reputation looks set to receive a boost thanks to a new flavoured condom that aims to encourage safer sex in Ethiopia.
Around 300,000 of the coffee condoms were sold in one week when they were launched in September, according to the US charity DKT International.
It hopes to tap into Ethiopia’s coffee mania as a means to tackle high rates of HIV in the country, which is said to have invented the drink.
The charity said that with 2.1% of Ethiopians infected with Aids – and more than 7% in the capital, Addis Ababa – the flavoured prophylactic was more than a novelty.
“Everybody likes the flavour of coffee,” says a DKT spokeswoman.
The condoms are sold in packs of three for 1 birr, or about 5 pence – about half the price of a cup of coffee in Addis Ababa’s cafes, and much cheaper than most other condom brands.
The dark brown condoms smell like Ethiopia’s popular macchiato, an espresso with a generous amount of cream and sugar.
“It is about time to use an Ethiopian flavour for beautiful Ethiopian girls,” said Dereje Alemu, a 19-year-old university student.
The product was developed after complaints by some users about the latex scent of plain condoms.
DTK has previously introduced flavoured condoms in other parts of the world in an attempt to appeal to local tastes. These included condoms scented with the infamously stinky durian fruit in Indonesia, and sweetcorn-fragranced condoms in China.
The charity’s latest condom has attracted some criticism in deeply conservative Ethiopia.
“It’s inappropriate,” said Bedilu Assefa, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Orthodox church, whose millions of followers are encouraged to abstain from sex outside marriage. “We’re proud of our coffee.”
But even those not sold on the idea of coffee condoms recognise the importance of safe sex.
“I hate coffee-flavored condoms,” said Tadesse Teferi, a 37-year-old mechanic. “But I use ordinary condoms when I have sex with ladies other than my wife.”