Depending on where you live and what kind of coffee you like to drink, you might experience some serious sticker shock at artisan cafes and gourmet coffee shops. However, if you thought paying six dollars for a latte was pricey, wait until you hear about elephant coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world.
Asingle pound of Black Ivory coffee (a brand specializing in elephant coffee) sells for a staggering $1000.
Elephant coffee commands such a high price due to its scarcity. It became the most expensive coffee in the world because it’s one of the world’s rarest coffees — a distinction owed mostly to the unique process in which the coffee is made. To make elephant coffee, you need elephants.
To make the coffee, elephants consume coffee beans, and the semi-digested beans are then collected from their poop and used to make coffee. Yep, you read that correctly. The world’s most expensive coffee — elephant coffee — is harvested from elephant poop.
Before you say anything, it’s important to remember to view this practice in a broader cultural context. Just because you aren’t used to something, or your culture doesn’t abide by the same customs or practices, doesn’t mean you should instantly write something new and “bizarre” off. (Spoiler alert: The world’s second most expensive coffee, kopi luwak, is harvested from weasel poop.)
There’s a reason that coffee fanatics go crazy over elephant coffee — it’s delicious. Research indicates that while the elephant is digesting the coffee cherries, the enzymes in the elephant’s stomach actually breaks down proteins in the coffee. Since protein is one of the main elements that causes bitterness in coffee, you end up with a final cup that gives off little to no bitterness in the tasting notes or aromas. (If you thought arabica coffee was low in bitterness, wait until you try elephant coffee.)
Now, you’re probably thinking: “Elephants are huge, they must eat a ton of coffee cherries every day — why is elephant coffee so rare?” Well, the yield has a lot to do with how hungry the elephants are, the availability of coffee cherries, and the scarcity of elephants themselves and qualified elephant handlers that exist. Plus, it takes a whopping 36 pounds of raw coffee cherries to harvest just one pound from elephant poop.
Despite the scarcity of the world’s most expensive coffee — and its unique method production — we encourage everyone who hasn’t tried elephant coffee to give it a chance if they ever get the chance.
Shop our Vietnamese Coffee Starter Kit here.
Learn how to make cold brew Vietnamese coffee here.
Make unique coffee drinks with cold brew using these recipes.