The name is Black Ivory. You might have heard a thing or two about this specialty coffee. One of them is of course about its phenomenal price, which is US$ 2,500 per kilogram! This may sound ridiculous to some, but for elite coffee snobs, it is worth a try. Not only for its rich flavor, but also because of its unique and interesting process. Moreover, it is said that Black Ivory is also one of the rarest coffees in the world –as stated in the Black Ivory Coffee official website– for in 2022 only approximately 215 kilograms Black Ivory coffee beans are available worldwide and is sold primarily to select five-star hotels for US$ 50 per cup. So, what makes this specialty coffee so special, and become one of the most expensive coffee beans the world has ever known?
The rich and unique flavor, for one. With notes of chocolate, malt, spice, a hint of grass and without the burnt or bitter taste of regular coffee, Black Ivory Coffee could be the most distinctive cup one will ever try, even if he/ she is not a coffee expert. The coffee bean is produced by Black Ivory Coffee Company Ltd in northern Thailand. Just like Kopi Luwak, Black Ivory is made with the help of an animal, in this case, an elephant. Yes, Black Ivory Coffee is made by passing coffee beans through the not insubstantial stomachs of elephants and then picking the beans out of their excrement. In fact, currently 20 elephants are responsible for producing this coffee bean. It is Blake Dinkin, a Canadian entrepreneur who had this somehow crazy idea and bet his life savings that he can turn the idea into gold. Well, he actually did it. It is now one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world.
If you are a coffee entrepreneur, you will quickly find this Black Ivory coffee making process familiar. Yes, because it is very similar to Kopi Luwak, another premium specialty coffee that also involves animals in its production process. It is made by feeding coffee cherries to wild civet cats –a cat-like creature– and harvesting the half-digested beans from the civet’s droppings. So, the idea of using animals is not new, but Blake Dinkin “supersized” the idea, by literally using a 4,000 kilogram animal as the main processing tool. But the entrepreneur claims that animal involvement is the only similarity between his coffee bean and Kopi Luwak. Other than that, everything is pretty much different, including the output result.
According to Dinkin, what makes his coffee bean different than Kopi Luwak begins with the idea that elephants –unlike humans or civets– are herbivores. They eat a lot of grass and other green, leafy matter. This of course affects the fermentation process that happens in their digestive system. The fermentation then helps remove the bitterness, making Black Ivory Coffee tastes even richer and smoother. “The aroma is floral and chocolate; the taste is chocolate malt with a bit of cherry; there’s no bitterness; and it’s very soft, like tea. So, it’s kind of like a cross between coffee and tea,” says Dinkin.
So, what do you think of this coffee bean? Is it better than Indonesia’s legendary wild civet’s Kopi Luwak? Certainly, there are mixed opinions out there, but both are on the list of the most expensive coffee beans. Thus, these two should be on your bucket list, especially if you are in the coffee business.