An extremely rare coffee is on the menu at The Ritz-Carlton, thanks to a herd of Thai elephants
Black Ivory Coffee is among the world’s most rare (and expensive) coffees. It costs $85 (U.S.) online for only 35 grams of the stuff. What makes it so expensive? Like kopi luwak coffee, which is often cited as the world’s most expensive coffee, Black Ivory Coffee is naturally refined. More specifically, it’s made from hand-picked coffee cherries (the fruit surrounding the coffee bean) that are eaten and then excreted by elephants in Thailand, and it takes a lot of elephants to produce the stuff.
Coffee nerds (and elephant enthusiasts) can find it at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel through October, where a sample of this brew goes for $50; Black Ivory founder and Torontonian Blake Dinkin (pictured above) says a portion of each purchase goes to support the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, as well as the families who care for the elephants in rural Thailand. Here’s a closer look (but not too close) at how it’s made:
Around 33 kilos of coffee cherries are required to make one kilo of Black Ivory Coffee, which requires feeding 30 elephants in the village of Ban Taklang:
The pachyderms are fed a snack made of Thai Arabica coffee cherries mixed with some of their favourite foods: rice, bananas and tamarind.
Then, 12 to 72 hours later, the elephants’ caregivers hand-pick the part-digested coffee cherries, which are then washed (obviously), raked and sun-dried before being roasted and shipped:
Here’s the crazy contraption used to brew the coffee:
Using a burr grinder, a vacuum-sealed envelope of whole roasted beans is hand-ground and brewed in a fancy coffee maker:
The four-minute process results in an almost tea-like, non-bitter brew with hints of cacao, tamarind, tobacco and leather:
The Ritz-Carlton’s tasting experience includes table-side bean-grinding and brewing. The coffee is served in a snifter to showcase the distinctive colour and distinctive aroma of earthy, damp… forest: