One lump or two?
An upmarket Thai hotel chain has begun selling a new exotic blend of coffee made from elephant dung.
The Black Ivory blend, made from coffee beans digested and excreted by Thai elephants, is billed as producing a particularly smooth cup. With an understandably strong aroma.
But it is not cheap, with Anantara Hotels saying the "naturally refined" coffee costs a staggering $US1100 ($A1067) a kilogram, making it one of the most expensive blends in the world.
Hopefully at least some of that is to pay the poor mahouts – the elephant trainers – who pick the digested beans out of the dung.
The beans are then dried in the sun and ready to finish their journey from trunk to drunk.
"Research indicates that during digestion the enzymes of the elephant break down coffee protein," the Thai-based hotel group, which is selling the pungent brew at about $US50 for two cups, said in a statement sent to AFP on Thursday.
"Since protein is one of the main factors responsible for bitterness in coffee, less protein means almost no bitterness."
So next time you order a long black, you might want to check where the bean has been.
The process is carried out at the hotel's elephant rescue centre in Thailand's north where 30 of the beasts live along with mahouts and their families.
Black Ivory is not the first novelty blend to hit the market in recent years. Coffee passed through the civet, a tree-dwelling mammal in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, sells for a similar price.
One New York coffee shop sells the civet coffee for $US748 a kilo.
So it may seem unsavoury, but there’s obviously enough of a market for this sort of product to keep coffee marketers as happy as a pig in coffee bean by-product.
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