The Elephant Coffee

The Elephant Coffee

A real luxury coffee product

When the most expensive coffees in the world are listed, one coffee must not be missing – the elephant coffee. This special coffee specialty is also known under the name Black Ivory. It originates in a region in northern Thailand where elephants play an important role in the production of coffee. Due to the low annual production volumes, coffee should only be known to real coffee specialists.

Production of the elephant coffee

In a region in northern Thailand, some pachyderms enjoy a luxury life. Immediately after their morning bath, they are served a rather unusual breakfast, with peeled bananas, boiled rice and a little salt, as well as coffee beans. The elephants digest the coffee beans and excrete them later with the feces. Then some employees sift through the animals’ dung and collect the coffee beans one by one.

The coffee beans are then washed and dried in the sun before they are given their final touches during roasting. For a long time, the coffee specialty was reserved for a few hotel guests on site, who could have the unusual drink freshly prepared at the table.

A few years ago, the annual production volume of this popular coffee was less than 100 kilograms. At first glance, this appears to be very little, but when you consider the effort involved in making the coffee, the production volume should not be underestimated. Of course, the aim should be to continuously expand this amount over the next few years in order to make the tasty coffee specialty available to a wider audience.

Taste of the elephant coffee

The Black Ivory coffee is comparable to the Kopi Luwak, which is especially popular in Indonesia. While in the Kopi Luwak, the Indonesian crawling cats eat the coffee beans and excrete them later. In the Black Ivory, the coffee beans pass through the digestive tract of elephants, whereby they lose their bitter substances and develop a very special aroma.

This fermentation later gives the coffee a taste of chocolate, fruit, caramel, malt and grass. Confessing coffee drinkers even like to compare the popular drink with black tea, which has a similarly gentle aroma.

Elaborate coffee production and high prices

The production of coffee is very complex compared to other production processes. In contrast to the Kopi Luwak, where the crawling cats sometimes live wild, the elephants are kept by so-called elephant handlers. First of all, the coffee beans must be digested and excreted by the pachyderms. The collection of the rejected coffee beans is very labor-intensive and time-consuming.

The coffee production capacity is limited as the elephants can only consume a certain amount of coffee beans per day. To make one kilogram of coffee, over 30 kilograms of coffee beans must be used. If a coffee manufacturer wants to expand its capacities, it has to cooperate with other animal owners.

Of course, the number of elephants on site is also limited and there is no guarantee that the valuable elephant droppings will always end up where they should. If the elephant excretes during a bath, part of the harvest may be lost because the employees cannot pick up the coffee beans.

The elaborate coffee production and the many imponderables lead to the fact that the Black Ivory pays more than 800 euros per kiloThe Kopi Luwak even achieves top prices of over 1000 euros per kilogram .

Coffee Making Ethical Concerns

Because of the high prices that can be achieved for Kopi Luwak and Black Ivory, it is attractive for producers to expand their volumes. Since this is difficult for many reasons, more and more animals are being kept in ever tighter spaces. The sneak cats are then kept in cages and more or less force-fed. This unbalanced diet leads to deficiency symptoms in the animals. These living conditions have long been a thorn in the side of animal rights activists, which is why protests keep coming back.

When it came to making coffee with the help of elephants, those responsible took a different approach. The “ Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation ”, for example, has set itself the goal of creating good keeping conditions for the pachyderms. Black Ivory Coffee pays the elephant handlers and harvest workers, according to their own statements, an above-average salary and finances the “ Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp ” with eight percent of the income, which is intended to ensure optimal veterinary care for the elephants. Of course, it must be ensured and controlled that these framework conditions will also be complied with in the future against the background of rapidly growing demand.

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Conclusion

The Black Ivory coffee is a coffee specialty that is unique in its production method and therefore interesting for many coffee connoisseurs. The small quantities and the high prices make coffee a real luxury product, which should be reserved for special moments.

  • Coffee beans are mixed with elephants’ feed, after which they migrate through the digestive tract of the pachyderms
  • This leads to fermentation, which causes the coffee to lose its bitter substances
  • The coffee tastes slightly chocolaty, malty, of fruit and grass
  • Due to the low production volumes, the coffee specialty is difficult to obtain