Black Ivory Coffee is created from a process whereby coffee beans are digested and naturally refined by Thai elephants. Research indicates that during digestion, the enzymes of the elephant break down coffee protein. Since protein is one of the main factors responsible for bitterness in coffee, less protein means almost no bitterness.
At a retail price of approximately US$1,100 per kilogramme, this coffee is also one of the most expensive and exclusive in the world. Currently 50 kilogrammes are available for sale.
The process begins with selecting the best Thai Arabica beans that have been picked from an altitude of 1,500 metres. The beans are digested and then deposited by the elephants and the individual beans are handpicked by mahouts (elephant trainer and carer) and their wives and sundried.
Approximately 10,000 beans are picked to produce one kilogramme of roasted coffee; 33 kilogrammes of coffee cherries are required to produce one kilogramme of Black Ivory Coffee.
Refinement of the coffee takes place at Anantara's own foundation the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) in Thailand. The foundation, set in the grounds of Anantara Golden Triangle has, to date, rescued 30 street elephants along with their mahouts and families. Eight percent of all coffee sales will be donated to GTAEF to help fund a specialist elephant veterinarian to provide free care to the elephants and additional funds will also be used to purchase medicine as well as to build a new laboratory.
In order to demonstrate freshness and to enhance diners' senses, the coffee is ground by hand at the table and brewed using technology developed in 1840 in Austria. This balancing syphon is not only a beautiful machine, but also widely recognised as the best way to brew coffee. The consistent 93° Celsius temperature and contact time between water and bean result in a very clean and flavourful taste. The four minute brewing process is visually enticing and leaves a lasting impression.
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