Debian bug 644545 has been resolved in unstable (sid), finally. Debian couchdb is now in working order with package version 1.1.1-2. Thank you Laszlo!
As of 2012-03-30, the package has hit squeeze / testing. If you’re running this release, you don’t need to do anything special – just apt-get update; apt-get install couchdb
Previous pinning instructions below for posterity: