Would you pay $1,100 for a kilogram of specialty coffee beans? What if they were pooped out by an elephant?
It may sound like the stuff of satire, but that's exactly what's on the menu at four Maldives resorts and one in Thailand. The Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas properties offer Black Ivory Coffee, a specialty brew made with beans digested and "naturally refined" by Thai elephants.
According to a release, the off-kilter process engenders the beans with a special quality:
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.
Only about 50 kilograms of the stuff are available for purchase, and each one will cost the adventurous drinker $1,100 per kilogram. About.com figures that amounts to about $50 a cup. For comparison sake, 16 oz. of Starbuck's House Blend retails for only $11.95 on its web site.
Of course, the notion of roasting pooped-out beans isn't a new one. In 2010, word spread about what was then thought to be the most expensive coffee in the world: kopi luwak, a Southeast Asian brew made from coffee berries passed through the digestive tract of an Asian palm civet.
At the time, kopi luwak went for $100-600 a pound -- cheap compared to Black Ivory Coffee.
Coffee isn't the only beverage to get into the dung business. Earlier this year, a Chinese businessman announced he planned to sell organic green tea grown with panda dung for more than $200 a cup.