Because coffee extracted from the feces of a tree dwelling cat wasn't strange enough: Elephant dung coffee. This new coffee is being called "Black Ivory Coffee" and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that a four-cup serving will run you $35, making it only slightly more expensive than the triple venti monstrosity you order at Starbucks every morning.
It's hard to read the official black ivory coffee page with a straight face, since they love to describe their beans as "naturally enhanced" and "created through relentless passion." But there's some good information in there as well. The elephants in question are employed through The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation which seeks to improve the lives of working elephants and their handlers.
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The elephants are fed Thai Arabica beans, a lot of them. They claim that it takes about 33 kilograms of raw beans to produce a single kilogram of black ivory coffee. Thankfully, they also claim that the elephants are unharmed by the process of consuming raw coffee beans and that they have veterinarians on hand should one of them keel over mid "production" like a drug mule at the border.
Saying that it's exclusive is a bit of an understatement. This is their first year and operation and they've only put 50 kilograms of the
brown black gold on sale. This coffee is only available through the Anantara resorts. That means slurping down a cup of this rectally infused brew will require $35 for the coffee and several thousand dollars to fly out to one of their resorts in Thailand, Maldives or the United Arab Emirate.
Of course there's always the question of how much of this is marketing hype. Their claim is that the elephant's digestive system breaksdown the proteins responsible for bitterness as the whole bean, with fleshy protective outer skin intact, passes through them. The actual scholarly article they reference is from a Dr. Massimo Marcone of Canada's University of Guelph. That paper spoke specifically to kopi luwak coffee, more commonly known as civet coffee, which in turn is more commonly known as simply "the monkey poop coffee." While it is not unreasonable to think coffee passed through the bowels of one animal will be similar to coffee passed through the bowels of another, it would be a stretch to say, without more research, if elephant dung coffee is similar to or better than civet droppings. The fact that we are debating this point is perhaps a window into our obsession with novelty.