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Elephant Dung Coffee, the World's Most Expensive (Photos)

By Alex Johnston
Epoch Times Staff
Created: December 11, 2012 Last Updated: December 19, 2012
Related articles: World » Asia Pacific
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Miki Giles, from Hong Kong, tastes the Black Ivory Coffee at breakfast as Meena, a 6-year-old elephant stands nearby, at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort December 10, 2012 in Golden Triangle, northern Thailand. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Miki Giles, from Hong Kong, tastes the Black Ivory Coffee at breakfast as Meena, a 6-year-old elephant stands nearby, at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort December 10, 2012 in Golden Triangle, northern Thailand. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

More than 20 elephants in Northern Thailand’s Golden Triangle region produce the world’s most expensive coffee beans.

The elephants are being fed coffee cherries produced on nearby plantations, and then mahouts (elephant drivers) and their wives pluck the beans from the dung. The beans are then sun-dried and roasted. 

The coffee, called Black Ivory, is said to have an earthy and smooth flavor, but costs $50 for a cup and $500 per pound. It was first unveiled last month at several luxury hotels in Thailand, Maldives, and United Arab Emirates. The total supply for 2012 is 50 kg (110 pounds) with hopes for that to increase in 2013, depending on manpower. 

To make a single kilogram of roasted coffee (2.2. pounds), approximately 10,000 beans are picked. Some are lost in the process because elephants chew them. 

Research by Dr. Massimo in the Department of Food Science the University of Guelph in Canada, shows that elephants’ digestive enzymes break down the coffee protein, which is one of the main things that makes coffee bitter. 

“In contrast to carnivores, herbivores such as elephants use much more fermentation for digestion. Fermentation is desirable in coffee as it helps to impart the fruit from the coffee pulp into the bean,” according to the company’s website.

The result is a particularly smooth cup of coffee.  

There are other types of coffee that are produced in a similar manner.

In Indonesia, farmers produce kopi luwak, or simply civet coffee, by feeding civets the beans and using them after they are excreted. It is also one of the most expensive varieties in the world, costing upwards of $700 per kilogram, or $320 per pound.

Research by Dr. Massimo in 2002 deemed the kopi luwak coffee safe. 

Coffee beans picked from elephant dung. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Coffee beans picked from elephant dung. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Thai elephants head to the river at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort on December 10, 2012 in Golden Triangle, northern Thailand. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Thai elephants head to the river at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort on December 10, 2012 in Golden Triangle, northern Thailand. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Workers pick out coffee beans from elephant dung at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Workers pick out coffee beans from elephant dung at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A man rides his elephant after bathing at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A man rides his elephant after bathing at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Black Ivory Coffee founder Blake Dinkin (right) feeds an elephant a coffee bean mixture. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Black Ivory Coffee founder Blake Dinkin (right) feeds an elephant a coffee bean mixture. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A woman picks Thai arabica coffee beans at the Thai High coffee farm on Dec. 8, 2012 in Phrao, northern Thailand. The organic fair trade coffee farm was chosen to be used for the Black Ivory Coffee. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A woman picks Thai arabica coffee beans at the Thai High coffee farm on Dec. 8, 2012 in Phrao, northern Thailand. The organic fair trade coffee farm was chosen to be used for the Black Ivory Coffee. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A Thai mahout rides his elephant in the early morning fog at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort Dec. 9, 2012. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A Thai mahout rides his elephant in the early morning fog at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort Dec. 9, 2012. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A worker and her daughter look for elephant dung at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort Dec. 10, 2012 . (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A worker and her daughter look for elephant dung at an elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort Dec. 10, 2012 . (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Civet coffee, move over: A wild civet gathers ripe Arabika coffee fruits at a coffee plantation producing the expensive Luwak coffee in Bangli district on Bali island on Feb. 7, 2011. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images)

Civet coffee, move over: A wild civet gathers ripe Arabika coffee fruits at a coffee plantation producing the expensive Luwak coffee in Bangli district on Bali island on Feb. 7, 2011. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images)




   

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