$50-a-Cup Coffee Made From Poop

Black Ivory Coffee is processed inside elephant stomachs

By Newser Editors and Wire Services Suggested by Ghille

Posted Dec 10, 2012 11:33 AM CST

(Newser) – In the lush hills of northern Thailand, a herd of 20 elephants is excreting some of the world's most expensive coffee. Trumpeted as earthy in flavor and smooth on the palate, the exotic new brew is made from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung. A gut reaction inside the elephant creates what its founder calls the coffee's unique taste. Stomach turning or oddly alluring, Black Ivory Coffee is not just one of the world's most unusual specialty coffees: At $500 per pound, it's also among the world's priciest.

"When an elephant eats coffee, its stomach acid breaks down the protein found in coffee, which is a key factor in bitterness," says Blake Dinkin, who developed the coffee. "You end up with a cup that's very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee." The result is similar in civet coffee, or kopi luwak, another exorbitantly expensive variety extracted from the excrement of the weasel-like civet. But the elephants' massive stomach provides a bonus, thanks to the length of time it takes the beans to be digested and the other ingredients that infuse the beans during that time. For now, the $50-per-serving drink is only available at luxury hotels in Thailand, the Maldives, and Abu Dhabi.

In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2012, Ryan Nelson, 31, an American tourist from Tampa, Florida, sips the $500 per pound Black Ivory coffee at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
Blake Dinkin, founder of Black Ivory Coffee, holds a basket of coffee beans to mix with other fruits before feeding to elephants at an elephant camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
Blake Dinkin, left, watches as a Thai mahout feeds Meena, a 12-year old elephant with coffee beans mixed with fruits at an elephant camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2012, mahouts or elephant keepers take their elephants for a morning bath in the Ruak river near an elephant camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
In this photo taken Dec. 4, 2012, Niang Homhuan, 37, a Thai mahout's wife walks past an elephant while searching for elephant dung at a camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
In this photo taken Dec. 4, 2012, a coffee bean picked from elephant dung is shown at an elephant camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
In this photo taken Dec. 4, 2012, Pimnipa Petkla, 39, a Thai mahout's wife, sifts through elephant dung for coffee beans at a camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
In this photo taken Dec. 4, 2012, Niang Homhuan, 37, a Thai mahout's wife, picks coffee beans out of elephant dung at a camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
Asleigh Nelson, 32, an American tourist from Tampa, Florida, tastes a cup of the $500 per pound Black Ivory coffee at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2012, the $500 per pound Black Ivory coffee is poured into a cup at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
A Thai mahout's wife jokingly poses with a plastic basket containing coffee beans freshly cleaned from elephant dung below the tail of an elephant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
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