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Greg Rodgers

The New Most Expensive Coffee in the World

By October 14, 2012

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Thai elephant coffee



Photo by Greg Rodgers

Look out civets, there's a new animal processing the world's most expensive coffee: Thai elephants.

The original 'poo coffee', Indonesia's kopi luwak is produced by feeding civets -- small, weasel-like animals -- coffee fruit then later retrieving the beans from their droppings. Supposedly, enzymes in the digestive system break down proteins that produce bitterness in the coffee, yielding a smoother roast.

Anantara Resorts' new Black Ivory Coffee is processed exclusively by Thai elephants and is claimed to be even better, as elephants are herbivores and know more about what they're doing. Not to mention that much of the civet coffee sold to tourists is fake now days anyway.

While two pounds of civet coffee beans can cost around US $600, that same amount produced by Thai elephants may cost you a staggering US $1,100! A single cup can cost around US $50.

But why so expensive? First, keeping elephants isn't exactly cheap. Black Ivory coffee comes from rescued elephants, and 8% of coffee sales are promised to go back to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

The elephants are fed only Thai Arabica coffee beans grown at an altitude of around 5,000 feet. While they may be connoisseurs, they aren't entirely efficient: Elephants must eat more than 72 pounds of coffee cherries to produce 2.2 pounds of coffee beans!

No one can confirm yet if 72 pounds of coffee cherries produces a caffeine buzz in elephants.

For die-hard aficionados searching for a new coffee frontier, this is it. But you won't find Black Ivory on the menu at Starbucks; you'll have to visit one of the Anantara Resorts in the Maldives or close to Chiang Rai, north of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.

October 15, 2012 at 12:55 am
(1) greg says:

Sensationalist b.s. sold to naive coffee tourists who cannot tell the difference between price and quality.

Thanks for perpetuating the ignorance.

October 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm
(2) Blake says:

@Greg. Have you tried the coffee? If so where? If you haven’t I think you are a bit quick to judge. I spent 9 years developing this coffee and I can assure you I did not spend all of this time developing a beverage that was meant to dupe “naive coffee tourists.”

My website will be up in the next two weeks http://www.blackivorycoffee.com and I will begin to post where you can find. Come out, try it and if you still don’t like feel free to write whatever you want. I invite you to give me your feedback too (good, bad and ugly) at my website.


October 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm
(3) blake says:

Hi Greg. FYI it is near Chiang Rai and not Chiang Mai. Chiang Saen to be exact.


October 20, 2012 at 5:24 am
(4) goasia says:

Just to clarify, the ‘Greg’ that left the comment is not the same Greg that wrote the post.

I reported the story. It’s now up to people to decide whether they can taste a difference. And what the heck, many of life’s indulgences were once deemed ‘sensational’.

@blake: I thought Anantara was closer the Chiang Mai, the correction has been made.

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