Enlarge this imageElephants, in contrast to humans or civets, are herbivores. The fermentation happening inside their intestine as they crack down cellulose will help take out the bitterne s during the coffee beans. In this article, an elephant gets profe sional medical treatment with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.Michael Sullivan/NPRhide captiontoggle captionMichael Sullivan/NPRElephants, unlike humans or civets, are herbivores. The fermentation occurring of their gut because they crack down cellulose aids remove the bitterne s in the coffee beans. Right here, an elephant gets clinical remedy from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.Michael Sullivan/NPRI s#&% you not: The world's costliest espre so is now being produced in Thailand's Golden Triangle, a region better known for another high-priced, if illegal, export: opium. Canadian entrepreneur Blake Dinkin, 44, is betting his life savings that he can turn his idea into, well, gold. Here's the catch: His Black Ivory Coffee is made by pa sing coffee beans through the not insubstantial stomachs of elephants and then picking the beans out of, well, yeah, that. It's similar to Kopi Luwak, the civet coffee that was all the rage a few years back; Dinkin has just supersized the idea. He knows Kopi Luwak's image has been trashed because of concerns over counterfeiting, disease and animal abuse. But he insists there's nothing fake or frivolous about Black Ivory Espre so.The SaltNow A Test Can Tell If Your Pricey Cup Of Cat Poop Coffee Is FakeThe SaltHere's The Scoop On Cat Poop Coffee "There's easier ways to make money," he says. "I wouldn't spend 10 years and put my life savings on this if I didn't think it's for real, or I thought it was just going to be an overnight gag." Gag. Right. Let's just dispense with the jokes right here and now, shall we? "Crappacino," "Brew No. two," "Good to the last dropping" Dinkin has heard them all. And while he's a good Greg McKegg Jersey
sport about it, it's clear he's tired of them, too. He'd rather talk about what makes his brew different and better than Kopi Luwak. And it starts with the idea that elephants, unlike humans or civets, are herbivores. "They eat a lot of gra s and a lot of green, leafy matter. A herbivore, to split that down, utilizes fermentation to split down that cellulose," he says. "Fermentation is great for things like wine or beer or espre so, because it brings out the sugar inside the bean, and it allows impart the fruit within the espre so pulp into the bean." And that fermentation that aids remove the bitterne s, Dinkins says, is what makes his espre so unique. "I want people to taste the bean, not just the roast," he says. "The aroma is floral and chocolate; the taste is chocolate malt with a bit of cherry; there's no bitterne s; and it's very soft, like tea. So it's kind of like a cro s between espre so and tea." Enlarge this imageBlack Ivory Coffee workers sort coffee beans out of elephant dung.Michael Sullivan/NPRhide captiontoggle captionMichael Sullivan/NPRBlack Ivory Coffee workers sort coffee beans out of elephant dung.Michael Sullivan/NPRTo get to that point, the espre so beans are mixed into a mash with fruit, then fed to the elephants either by mouth, or hoovered right up the trunk. The latter pretty much sounds like a whole lot of change being sucked up a vacuum cleaner hose.Then you wait anywhere from one to three days for the elephant to offload its cargo, pick the beans out of the elephant dung (if you can find it), lather, rinse, repeat. It's not always easy finding "the result," which is one of the reasons it takes about 33 pounds of coffee beans to make just 1 pound of Black Ivory Coffee. And it's not just the slower cooker that makes the espre so different, Dinkin says. He sources his Arabica beans from hill tribes from the north of Thailand near the border with Myanmar. The drying proce s is long, and the roasting proce s is precise. And then there are the elephants. Specifically, how do you go about finding willing ve sels? What would you do if some guy cold-called you and said he wanted to use your elephants as slow cookers? Enlarge this imageBlake Dinkin sources his Arabica beans from hill tribes from the north of Thailand. The drying proce s is long, and the roasting proce s is precise.Michael Sullivan/NPRhide captiontoggle captionMichael Sullivan/NPRBlake Dinkin sources his Arabica beans from hill tribes in the north of Thailand. The drying proce s is long, Jordan Martinook Jersey
and the roasting proce s is precise.Michael Sullivan/NPRJohn Roberts, the director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Basis, remembers this. "As long as we could prove that there was no caffeine or anything else harmful leaking out, then it was worth trying, at least," he says. Was Roberts worried about the elephants hitting the mash a little too hard? Not really. "It's not nece sarily elephants getting buzzed that I'm too worried about, it's elephants mi sing their caffeine fix and having headaches and being bad-tempered. ... It's very dangerous. The last thing you Petr Mrazek Jersey
want is a cranky elephant," says Roberts. So what does brew No. 2 taste like? I bought a serving five or six espre so cups for $70, and sat on the terrace of the five-star Anantara Golden Triangle hotel to watch Dinkin prepare the "experience." First, he ground it lovingly. Then he brewed it, again with love. And then, after it cooled, I was ready. Enlarge this imageA serving of Black Ivory Coffee at the five-star Anantara Golden Triangle hotel in Chiang Rai, Thailand.Michael Sullivan/NPRhide captiontoggle captionMichael Sullivan/NPRA serving of Black Ivory Coffee at the five-star Anantara Golden Triangle hotel in Chiang Rai, Thailand.Michael Sullivan/NPRThe first thing that came to my (admittedly) juvenile mind was a scene from an Austin Powers movie where he says, "It's a bit nutty." And, in fact, the elephant poop coffee was a bit nutty, but also very flavorful and not at all bitter just as Dinkin had promised. I then went inside to pimp a few cups to hotel guests. As luck would have it, the first I met was a Finn and the Finns drink more coffee per capita than anyone else while in the world. That made Juha Hiekkamaki the perfect subject as he sipped tentatively. "Yes, that's very interesting, because usually I use sugar with coffee. But this is quite a gentle taste, and, yeah, I quite like that," he noted. Then it got better, because his wife, Claire, is a Brit, and she doesn't even drink espre so. Her verdict? "It's sort of fruity," she said. "Well, OK, it's raisin-y to me. I normally describe drinking espre so as a bit like drinking puddle water. But it hasn't got that horrible muddy water flavor afterwards, which is really nice. I really like it." Don't expect Black Ivory in a Starbucks near you. Dinkin is selling an experience, limited for now to five-star hotels and resorts in Asia and the Middle East and one tiny store in Comfort, Texas, called The Elephant Story, where the profits go to elephant conservation. "I'm not looking to produce a lot of this," Dinkin says. "I just want to keep it as a small, niche busine s. I get to work with people I really enjoy being with, I can make a decent living from it, and everyone's happy. That's what I want." He's still not quite there, but he says he's close to breaking even.