Most of us have heard of the expensive civet cat coffee, in which beans are eaten by these wild animals and then, how shall I put this for our more delicate readers, when the animals pass the beans naturally in their excrement, they are picked out, given a proper clean and processed into coffee grinds. For some of us this is a step too far, but a new animal is now on the block and coffee connoisseurs are raving about the taste from elephant dung coffee. The coffee beans are collected in exactly the same way as civet cat coffee and aficionados have already been describing the taste that hints of ‘milk chocolate, nuts, spice and red berries’.
Tasters who have consumed the new elephant dung coffee say that the overall taste is said to be floral and chocolatey. The elephant dung coffee is made from beans eaten and digested by elephants living on a reserve in Thailand and is the brainchild of the Black Ivory Coffee Co. Ltd, founded by Blake Dinkin. Dinkin is keen to point out that the elephant dung coffee is different to civet coffee, in that they do not force feed coffee to the animals or forcibly cage elephants.
They state that the beans are ‘naturally refined’ by the Thai elephants at their Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. The GTAEF is overseen by John Roberts, Director of Elephants at Anantara Golden Triangle’s on-site Elephant Camp. On most days you’ll find Roberts taking the babies of the elephant herd under his trust down to the river for their ritual bathing antics, leading treks through the resort’s lush 160 acre forest, or lending his experience to the mahout training programmes. Yet these playful pastimes belie inspirational achievements that support Thailand’s pachyderm population, and far beyond. Under Roberts’ passionate helm, over 30 elephants have been rescued from Thailand’s city streets, accompanied by their entire mahout family. English lessons are arranged for the mahouts and their wives, education is made available for their children, and a silk worm business provides the wives with 100% of the profits made from the sales of their wares at the resort boutique.
In addition to performing street rescues, the GTAEF cooperates with the Thai government and other organisations in ‘bigger picture’ projects. The elephant coffee is just a small part of the GTAEF’s welfare projects, but according to ABC News, the resort say that they will use 8 per cent of sales to fund care for the animals, which may not seem like a large percentage, but when you consider that the cost of the elephant dung coffee is a whopping $1,100 (£685.30) per kilogram, it makes this coffee the most expensive in the world.
The Black Ivory coffee is currently being sold to visitors at the Golden Triangle property in 300gm bags, and in various hotels including the Grand Hyatt Erawan, The Siam Boutique Hotel, The Peninsula (all Bangkok) as well as Ritz Carlton in Krabi.
As well as elephant dung coffee and civet cat coffee, other animals that have been used to make this type of coffee are bats and deer. Personally I think I’ll be sticking to a Starbucks latte!
For more information about the GTAEF or donate visit elephantfamily.org. For more information about Black Ivory Coffee check out their website at blackivorycoffee.com