Black Ivory coffee
Black Ivory Coffee is a brand of coffee produced by the Black Ivory Coffee Company Ltd in Northern Thailand from Arabica coffee beans consumed by elephants and collected from their feces. The taste of Black Ivory coffee is influenced by elephants' digestive enzymes, which breaks down the coffee's protein. "Protein is one of the primary factors for bitterness in coffee. Less protein results in a coffee with less bitterness." The coffee beans are digested within 15 to 70 hours, and are present with various other ingredients in the elephants' stomachs, which imparts specific flavors to the product. In contrast to civets who are omnivores, elephants are herbivores. Herbivores utilize fermentation to help break down cellulose (green leafy matter).
Black Ivory coffee has been described as "very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee" and is among the world's most expensive coffees, at US$1,100 per kilogram. It has limited availability, and at a few luxury hotels it is available at the price of US$50 a cup. The supply of Black Ivory coffee depends on the availability of coffee cherries, the appetite of the elephants, the number of beans destroyed through chewing of the beans and the ability of the mahouts and their wives to recover intact beans. The high price of the product is largely due to the large number of coffee cherries needed to produce the finished product: 33 kilograms (72 pounds) of raw coffee cherries results in 1 kilogram (2 pounds) of the finished product. Most of the beans are not recoverable because they are chewed by the elephants, become fragmented, or after being excreted are lost in the bush.
Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation
The coffee is produced by Black Ivory Coffee Co. Ltd. at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Chiang Saen, northern Thailand, an elephant refuge that cares for rescued elephants. Approximately 20 elephants at the foundation produce the coffee. Eight percent of Black Ivory Coffee Company sales are donated to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which is used to fund the elephants' health care. The consumption of the coffee cherries does not adversely affect the elephants, and veterinary tests concluded that caffeine is not absorbed from the coffee cherries they consume.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Black Ivory Coffee. Retrieved 10 Dec 2012.
- Jocelyn Gecker (9 Dec 2012). "Elephant Dung Coffee: An Exotic, Expensive Brew". Sci-Tech Today. Retrieved 10 Dec 2012.
- (Associated Press) (7 Dec 2012). "Coffee from an elephant's gut fills a $50 cup". USA Today. Retrieved 6 Jan 2013.