The world’s most exclusive coffee can be found at a Bangkok-based hotel chain in Asia and the Middle East, and it may be shocking to learn where this coffee comes from. The Anantara Hotel produces coffee from beans that have been pre-digested by Thailand elephants. The aptly named Black Ivory Coffee costs around $50 per cup, and one kilo of beans costs up to $1,100.
Coffee farmers in Thailand harvest Thai Arabica beans and then feed them to local elephants that were rescued from roaming the country’s streets. After the beans are digested and excreted, elephant trainers handpick the beans and sun-dry them. One kilo of the Black Ivory Coffee requires 10,000 pre-digested coffee beans.
Supposedly, a chemical reaction from the elephants’ digestive system creates a unique flavor. Blake Dinkin, the man behind the creation of Black Ivory Coffee, told the Associated Press, “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.”
It is also believed that the bananas, sugar cane, and other vegetables in an elephant’s diet affect the fruity flavor of the beans as they are all digested together.
Thus far, elephants have not been found to be adversely affected from the extra consumption of caffeine. Additionally, 8 percent of the coffee’s total sales is donated to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which is a refuge for rescued and abused elephants.
As strange as the origin of Black Ivory Coffee sounds, it’s not the only pre-digested coffee. Kopi Luwak coffee beans come from beans digested by the Asian palm civet.