A clever entrepreneur in Thailand has found a way to produce the world's most expensive coffee beans with the help of elephants. It's a bit of a messy process, as it involves picking the coffee beans from animal dung, but the result is the exquisite and rare Black Ivory Coffee.
Blake Dinkin, who originally hails from Canada, is the man behind Black Ivory Coffee which is produced from 100% arabica beans that are hand picked and fed to elephants, making them the most expensive coffee beans in the world. His idea is a spin on Kopi Lawak coffee which is produced from the excrement of civet palm cats.
Unlike civet palm cats, elephants are herbivores and it's this distinction that makes Black Ivory Coffee so unique, according to Dinkin. "They eat a lot of grass and a lot of green, leafy matter. A herbivore, to break that down, utilizes fermentation to break down that cellulose," he told NPR.
"Fermentation is great for things like wine or beer or coffee, because it brings out the sugar in the bean, and it helps impart the fruit from the coffee pulp into the bean."
image via Flushnews
So what does elephant coffee tastes like?
Dinkin says the rare coffee has a "floral" aroma and a taste of "chocolate malt with a bit of cherry." It's not bitter at all and it's "very soft, like tea."
NPR calculates that a single serving (about five or six espresso cups) costs $70. The reason it's so expensive is it takes 30 kilos (66 lbs.) to produce one kilo (2.2 lbs.) of coffee.
If you are interested in getting a taste of this exquisite coffee don't go running to the nearest upscale market just yet. Black Ivory Coffee is sold exclusively in five-star hotels across Southeast Asia.
Dinkin works with elephants from Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and donates 8% of his sales to the institution. Here's a video in which he explains his work and mission: