Black Ivory Coffee uses beans ingested by elephants
Civets have had their day as the mammal behind the world’s most expensive coffee – that accolade now reportedly goes to Thai elephants, the latest animal whose internal systems are being utilised for coffee production.
- Blake Dinkin is keen to stress the community and conservation benefits of this new delicacy, in which rescued street elephants in Chiang Saen, northern Thailand, consume Arabica coffee beans.
The beans are picked from an altitude “as high as 1,500m” before the animals, from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, have them pass through their systems for 15-70 hours.
Once deposited within excrement, the beans are picked from the waste by mahouts and their families, to be sundried and roasted, with the beans’ bitterness quelled by the fermentation process.
Black Ivory calls itself the “rarest and most expensive” coffee in the world. A statement on its website reads: “Approximately 8,800 beans are picked for each kilogram of roasted coffee; thus, 33 kilograms of coffee cherries are required to produce just one kilogram of Black Ivory Coffee.”
Similarly-produced civet coffee – also named Kopi Luwak – grew in popularity through the Noughties and a kilogram can be bought on coffee websites in packages in excess of £280.
That trade, in which cat-like Indonesian palm civets consume coffee berries, has been dogged by claims of animal abuse and a market flooded with fakes.
It even led to the man who introduced civet coffee to the West, condemning it and calling for its abolition.
“I feel as if long ago I must have inadvertently put my finger on the pulse of some monstrous zeitgeist, a grotesque cancer that constantly mutates into yet more vile and virulent forms,” Tony Wild wrote in The Guardian last year.