Move over civets, there’s a new coffee poop on the block and this one is huge to say the least. The “owner” of the aforementioned poop? Elephants! Yes as you read this article, a herd of 20 elephants in Thailand are “cooking” up one of the most expensive coffees on the planet. How expensive? Let’s just say one cup will set you back $50! Of course if you have money burning a hole in your pocket then go for broke…1kg costs a whopping $1,100 ($500 per pound).
Blake Dinkin, the “creator” of Black Ivory Coffee launched his product in just few luxury hotels in the world including Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok (Thailand), Anantara Dhigu Resort and Spa (Maldives) and hotels in Abu Dhabi. What makes this different to civet coffee though? Blake told the Financial Post “When an elephant eats coffee, its stomach acid breaks down the protein found in coffee, which is a key factor in bitterness. You end up with a cup that’s very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee.”
The elephant takes 15 to 30 hours to digest the beans along with bananas and sugar cane among other things. This is what, apparently, gives the coffee its “earthy and fruity flavors”.
The entire process is quite labor-intensive also. For every 33kgs (72lbs) of handpicked, raw, pure Arabica coffee beans that the elephants eat, only 1kg (2lbs) are “produced”. The rest? Either chewed up, broken or lost in the grass.
Hill-tribe women from a small mountain estate collect the dung and break it open to get the coffee beans which are then thoroughly washed. These are then sun-dried and sent to a gourmet roaster in Bangkok.
In spite of some good-natured jokes such as “Crappuccino” and “good to the last dropping”, Dinkin’s first batch has already sold out! According to him, customers who are “relatively affluent, open-minded and adventurous — with a desire to tell a good story” are the ones who will try his coffee.
8% of sales are being donated to help pay for a specialist elephant veterinarian to be able to provide free care to all the elephants at that Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and by extension the elephants of Thailand. Funds will also be used to buy medication and to build a new laboratory.