The World’s Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant Poo

The elephant digestion process allegedly brings out the flavor of coffee beans. Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

The priciest coffee in the world now comes from beans that have gone through the digestive tract of elephants, NPR reports. The brew, known as Black Ivory Coffee, costs about $70 for one serving, which is about five or six espresso cups.

The man behind the coffee, a Canadian entrepreneur named Blake Dinkin, has heard his share of jokes about his product. "Crappacino," "Brew No. 2," and "Good to the last dropping” are a few of the cracks slung his way.

But he’s serious about his coffee. "I wouldn't spend 10 years and put my life savings on this if I didn't think it's for real, or I thought it was just going to be an overnight gag," he told NPR.

When elephants eat leaves, microbes in the digestive tract “utilize fermentation to break down that cellulose,” he said. The fermentation process brings out the sugars and flavors in the bean, and he says the end result tastes smoother than most coffee, like a mix between coffee and tea.

The product is “produced” by Asian elephants in Thailand’s Golden Triangle.

The idea is similar to that of civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak, which comes from beans eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet, a cat-like animal native to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

It takes 73 pounds of beans to get 2.2 pounds of Black Ivory coffee, because much of the coffee is broken down inside the elephant’s innards, according to the company’s website.

For now the coffee is only available in "five-star hotels and resorts" in Asia and the Middle East, besides one small store in Comfort, Texas, called The Elephant Story, that donates its profits to elephant conservation. 

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