Have you heard of elephant poop coffee?
While this may sound strange at first, it is a rare delicacy to be savoured.
With a 2019 allocation of only 150 kg, Black Ivory Coffee is the rarest and most expensive in the world – a rare delicacy to be savoured. While this coffee is primarily sold to five-star hotels, a small portion is roasted to order for private consumers. At around US$50 a cup, this expensive coffee is a luxury for adventurous spirits who want to try something new.
Black Ivory Coffee was founded by Blake Dinkin in 2012. He spent 10 years making the coffee, researching the science behind it, and perfecting the harvesting process.
In their review of Black Ivory Coffee, CNN reported: “Forget civets. Beans pooped out by elephants make a far tastier cup of joe, claim those in the know.”
The Harvesting Process
To make Black Ivory Coffee, coffee cherries are naturally refined by elephants in Thailand that live in the remote rural village of Surin, Thailand.
First, coffee harvesters handpick the best 100% Thai Arabica cherries from an altitude of 1500 metres. These coffee cherries are then delivered to Surin, where the elephant carers mix the cherries into the elephant’s favourite foods such as rice, bananas, sugar cane, and tamarind – a plump pod-like tropical fruit. This feed individualised to each elephant’s taste nourish them a rich source of nutrients.
Next, the elephants ingest the coffee cherries, which takes between 12 to 72 hours. Approximately 33 kilograms of coffee cherries are used to make one kilogram of Black Ivory Coffee.
In this process, the enzymes in the elephant’s digestive system breaks down the protein in the beans, which is responsible for its bitterness. Since elephants are essentially herbivores and eat a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, the ingestion process also ferments the beans. This brings out the sugar of the coffee and imparts the fruit flavour of the cherry into the bean. The digestive process also reduces the bean’s acidity.
Once excreted by the elephants, the harvesters handpick the individual cherries, which are then brought to the local school, where students are paid to wash and rake the coffee cherries.
Next, the cherries are sundried to a specific percentage of moisture to enhance their quality. They are then hulled and sorted by hand to remove defective cherries. Only the largest cherries are chosen to ensure they roast evenly.
The beans are then roasted to order in small batches of 3 kilograms at a time to ensure freshness. They get packed into a valve bag before being shipped around the world.
The result is a very distinctive cup of elephant coffee with notes of cacao, spices, and tobacco topped with a hint of grass and red cherry.
The ideal brewing method for Black Ivory Coffee is balancing syphon coffee brewing, which heats the coffee without ever boiling the beans. This ensures the coffee is never bitter and maintains its delicate, almost tea-like smoothness.
This unique harvesting method makes Black Ivory Coffee the world’s most unusual and exotic specialty coffee. USA Today describes this elephant poop coffee as “oddly alluring.”
This coffee business gives elephants and their carers a second chance. Black Ivory Coffee donates 8% of its sales to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a commitment to elephant conservation and welfare. Through the foundation's help, abused and mistreated elephants are rescued from Chiang Saen, northern Thailand, and are placed in the Thailand’s Golden Triangle Elephant Sanctuary.
Here, they are well-cared for in their new home. The elephants are fed a natural, varied diet, including coffee berries, to live a healthy and happy life. There is no force-feeding involved, and the elephants eat the coffee cherries when they want and deposit them as they usually would.
The production of Black Ivory Coffee also provides valuable income for elephant caregiving families as well as the local high school students who wash and dry the coffee. This money is often used to support aging parents, cover health expenses, school fees, food, and clothing.
Black Ivory Coffee Taste
Coffee processed through elephants has a unique and luxurious taste. For first-timers curious to try, consider the Cognac XO Barrel Aged Black Ivory Coffee or the Rum Barrel Aged Black Ivory Coffee.
Black Ivory Coffee
Pre-barrel, the Black Ivory Coffee beans contain notes of chocolate, tamarind, spice, a hint of grass. The taste is very smooth – without the burnt or bitter taste of regular coffee.
Shop Black Ivory Coffee here.
Cognac XO Barrel Aged Black Ivory Coffee
This coffee speciality derives its flavour from Cognac XO combined with the aroma of Black Ivory Coffee beans.
The cognac adds an intense sweet pastry aroma, with notes of cinnamon, dried fruit, old port, and violet. Together they make perfection.
Shop Cognac XO Barrel Aged Black Ivory Coffee here.
Rum Barrel Aged Black Ivory Coffee
This coffee speciality features a deep flavour of rum mixed with the aroma of Black Ivory Coffee beans.
The XO rum adds notes of raw honey, dark cherry chocolate, sultana, date, prune, brown sugar, toffee, cedar, and tobacco, resulting in a flavour that is both sweet and spicy.
Shop Rum Barrel Aged Black Ivory Coffee here.
Aside from these two selections, Black Ivory Coffee also offers speciality packages, which are suitable for parties and corporate events.
The rich taste, distinctive flavour, and ethical harvesting that supports elephants and their caregivers make Black Ivory Coffee a very special treat. Even if you are not a coffee expert, you are bound to delight in the unique aroma of coffee beans pooped out by elephants.
Embark on an adventure and indulge in the world’s rarest coffee – naturally refined by elephants.