FOR those who like their coffee with a strong nose Thailand could be the ideal destination, after a blend made from elephant dung was put on sale by an upmarket hotel chain.
The Black Ivory blend, made from coffee beans digested and excreted by Thai elephants, is billed as producing a particularly smooth cup.
But it is not cheap, with Anantara Hotels saying the “naturally refined” coffee costs a staggering $US1100 ($1067) a kilogram, making it one of the most expensive blends in the world.
“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.”
Once the elephants have digested the coffee berries, the beans are picked out of their dung by mahouts – their trainers – and then sun-dried.
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.