Black Ivory is an elite coffee made from high-mountain Arabica beans passed through the digestive tract of elephants. Black Ivory is produced only in Thailand and is the most expensive coffee in the world as its cost is $1100 per kilogram. In terms of the processing method, Black Ivory is similar to Kopi Luwak coffee, which is made from coffee beans extracted from civet excrements.
But why is Black Ivory so popular and expensive? What is so special about the most expensive coffee in the world? Read on!
Black ivory coffee is made of high-mountain Arabica beans passed through the digestive tract of elephants that digest beans for 15-30 hours together with their usual food — bananas and sugar cane. During digestion, beans acquire an earthy and fruity aroma, undergoing a natural fermentation process.
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Black Ivory comes from the Golden Triangle (border of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand). The peculiarity of the drink is in the original processing method: Arabica coffee beans are passed through the elephant’s digestive tract. The idea of making coffee is borrowed from the Indonesian coffee Kopi Luwak.
Black Ivory Coffee Guide: Price, Taste, Nutrition
What is so special about Black Ivory coffee? Black Ivory is special as coffee beans, eaten by elephants, which acquire chocolate and caramel-like flavor and lose bitterness and acidity due to the enzymes in the elephant’s stomach and intestines. The natural fermentation process makes Black Ivory coffee flavor smooth, mild, and sweet.
In terms of the processing method, Black Ivory is similar to the Kopi Luwak coffee, positioned as an elite one. The processing of coffee beans in the digestive tract is because after entering an elephant’s stomach, the stomach acid breaks down the protein that makes coffee taste bitter. As a result, Black Ivory acquires a soft, smooth caramel-like flavor and a rich nutty aroma.
A study by the University of Guelph, Canada, showed that elephant enzymes reduce the level of the protein responsible for bitterness in coffee during digestion. Herbivores, such as elephants, digest food through increased fermentation in the stomach. The fermentation process for the coffee beans in the pulp of the bean has the same effect as the fermentation process for grapes to make good wine.
Black Ivory Coffee Taste
What does Black Ivory coffee taste like? Black Ivory has a smooth, sweet caramel-like flavor and rich nutty aroma. The enzymes in the elephant’s stomach and intestines give Black Ivory a pleasant fruity taste and aroma and reduce protein, so Black Ivory does not taste bitter or acidic. Black Ivory has hints of spice, chocolate, and tamarind.
Elephants digest coffee beans for 15-30 hours together with other food like sugar cane, bananas, and other components of a vegetarian elephant diet. In the process of digestion, coffee beans get a fruity and earthy smell and undergo a natural fermentation process.
To get one kilogram of an exclusive drink, an elephant must eat about 33 kilograms of fresh coffee berries. Saturated soft coffee with subtle fruity notes attracts gourmets from the first sip of this aromatic drink. Some people noted the taste of milk chocolate with a pleasant nutty aftertaste of Black Ivory coffee.
Black Ivory is already very popular among foreign tourists. However, coffee experts still disagree about the drink: some consider its taste “average” and believe that its popularity is growing due to its “exoticism”; others feel that it has a complete lack of bitterness inherent in other varieties and the taste of chocolate and caramel. To decide whether Black Ivory will be right up your street, you need to try it yourself.
Black Ivory Price
How much does a cup of Black Ivory coffee cost? As of 2022, a cup of Black Ivory coffee costs $50-$70. Black Ivory Coffee Company offers 1 kg (2.20 ounces) of Black Ivory for $2,200 and a single package of whole roasted Black Ivory (35g/1.3 ounces) for $120. These prices make Black Ivory the most expensive coffee in the world.
Black Ivory is so expensive since elephants need to eat 33 kg of coffee cherries to produce 1 kg of coffee. Black Ivory is also expensive because the process of extracting, washing, processing, and transporting coffee beans is time-consuming and laborious, and keeping elephants is expensive, too.
The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation directs 8% of the sales proceeds to veterinary care for elephants and the procurement of essential medicines. So far, the foundation has been able to rescue more than 30 street elephants and provide work for the drovers and their families. In the future, it is planned to build a new laboratory in Thailand with funds from the sale of the Black Tusk variety and other charitable sources.
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Is Black Ivory coffee worth it? Black Ivory coffee is definitely worth trying if you like mild, sweet coffee with a hint of caramel and chocolate. Black Ivory is expensive, but its unique smooth flavor and rich earthy and fruity aroma will give you an unforgettable experience.
Brewing Black Ivory
How do you make Black Ivory coffee? To make Black Ivory coffee, you need to:
- Take 1-2 teaspoons of Black Ivory coffee and 150 ml of water.
- Boil water and wait for it to cool down for 3-5 minutes.
- Add water to the coffee and cover the cup with a saucer for 5 minutes.
- Add spices/sugar/chocolate/marshmallows if needed.
- Enjoy the most expensive coffee in the world!
Black Ivory Coffee Technology and Production
The Black Ivory coffee production process takes place in several stages. For starters, the elephants are fed with rice porridge, to which the beans of Thai Arabica are added. In order for the finished coffee to have certain flavor characteristics, the elephants are fed bananas, sugar canes, etc.
All of these ingredients are digested in the elephant’s stomach for 15-30 hours, after which the processed beans are released naturally. Further, manure is collected on the plantation, kneaded, and coffee beans are extracted from it. The final stage in coffee production is rinsing and drying the coffee beans and then roasting them.
Obtaining coffee beans is a very laborious and costly process. To get 1 kg of Black Ivory coffee, you need to feed an elephant about 35 kg of Thai Arabica beans, which are very expensive. Such a huge amount of used beans is due to the fact that during processing, some of them break or are lost in the grass.
Black Ivory Coffee History
The idea to create Black Ivory coffee belongs to the Canadian Blake Dinkin. After rethinking the process of making beans, he decided to create a type of coffee, the production of which would be consistent with nature.
Blake Dinkin, the author of the idea and the owner of the company that produces a new type of coffee, considered the use of various animals in the fermentation process, from lynx and lion to giraffe, but settled on the Asian elephant, having learned that these animals themselves eat coffee beans in a drought unlike other “candidates” who have to force-feed coffee beans.
That is how he got the idea of using elephants to process coffee cherries because elephants’ stomach acid can break down the protein that provokes coffee bitterness. Blake was so carried away by his idea that he repeatedly took part in the preparatory process of processing coffee beans.
Black Ivory coffee production was founded on the territory of the Thai reserve. In 2012, the first harvest of Black Ivory amounted to approximately 70 kg. The new type of coffee was highly appreciated by true gourmets and soon became popular among customers.
Black Ivory coffee’s high cost is because coffee is produced on a modest scale, as Dinkin adheres to the idea of humane treatment of elephants. At the same time, up to 10% of the profits from the sale of coffee are directed to the support and protection of elephants.
Now Black Ivory coffee can be tried in Thailand or ordered on the internet from trusted suppliers. What about the most famous coffee shop? Does Starbucks Use Black Ivory coffee? As of 2021, no Starbucks coffeehouse uses Black Ivory coffee.