Black Ivory Competing With Kopi Luwak For Most Expensive Coffee Title

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Many are already familiar with Kopi Luwak, as made famous in “The Bucket List” — coffee cherries consumed, partially digested, and excreted by the Asian palm civet cat are harvested and refined for the consumer coffee market. It’s been referred to as the most expensive coffee on the planet, in some areas commanding as much as $80 per cup.

But far less are familiar with Black Ivory, another specialty coffee that recently became available in select luxury hotels throughout Thailand, Maldives, and Abu Dhabi. Instead of civet cats “processing” coffee beans prior to manufacture, Black Ivory utilizes — get this — Thai elephants to get the job done.

Now, I don’t personally have experience with either of the “blends”, but I did a little digging and found a coffee expert’s opinion of Kopi Luwak. In a Huffington Post article, “Kopi Luwak Needs to Disappear,” Adam Pesce, Coffee Director at Reunion Island Coffee, said, “It is very, very bad coffee, and is in no way worth the exorbitant price tag it carries. Some of its allure comes from science that shows the enzymes in the cat’s stomach mellows out the proteins in coffee that cause bitterness. The same science shows that there is nothing unsafe or unhealthy with kopi luwak, but it doesn’t make it any less unpleasant.”

That opinion isn’t unique. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) indicated that there’s a “general consensus within the industry … it just tastes bad.”

Another concern is that tens of thousands of civet cats are caged and forced to consume the beans. The cats have a high mortality rate, but unfortunately many people aren’t aware of the conditions in which kopi luwak has become to be purveyed.

On the other hand, the Black Ivory Coffee company began last year manufacturing Black Ivory, a coffee which, as stated above, is developed from reclaimed coffee beans that Thai elephants consume.

It takes roughly 33 kilograms of unprocessed coffee cherries to produce one kilogram of the Black Ivory coffee, and a cup of Black Ivory could set you back about $60.

One thing that the Black Ivory Coffee company has over its competitor, animal welfare. The elephants are well taken care of at the Golden Elephant Triangle Foundation in Chiang Saen, Thailand.

So… is it civet cat, or Thai elephant coffee this morning? I think I’ll stick to Jamaica Blue Mountain.