Many of us remember when, a few years ago, a rodent-like creature called a civet made its way into the Zeitgeist with the popularization of a coffee made from beans it had eaten and then defecated. While most of us were revolted at the thought of drinking coffee stewed within the bowels of a wild animal, others embraced the idea, making the coffee, called Kopi luwak, among the most expensive in the world today.
Dinkin told the A.P. that he worked with a veterinarian to ensure that the elephants didn’t absorb any caffeine before he embarked on his project; photo via Wiki Commons, R.M. Calamar
Now an entrepreneur in Thailand has done the civets one better, as he has introduced a new brand whose beans are collected from the dung of 20 elephants in Thailand. So far the coffee, which goes for about $50 a cup, has been introduced in luxury hotels in Thailand, the Maldives, and Abu Dhabi, according to the Associated Press.
“When an elephant eats coffee, its stomach acid breaks down the protein found in coffee, which is a key factor in bitterness,” the entrepreneur, Blake Dinkin, told the A.P. “You end up with a cup that’s very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee.”
No civets were harmed in the writing of this story; photo via Wiki Commons
When you put it that way, it sounds tasty–at least in theory. In reality? According to an American couple vacationing in Thailand and interviewed by the A.P., the coffee is “very interesting” and there’s “something wild about it.”
Could the taste be so wild and interesting that we are now entering a new era of coffee consumption? Are we going to begin domesticating animals purely for their ability to break down proteins in coffee beans? Will we begin choosing our pets based on the prospect of an especially smooth cup of Joe? Will we soon be rifling through our kitty litter, looking for beans, just to avoid the elephant coffee’s hefty price?
Perhaps, but for now, one happy side effect of the coffee brewing process is that it could potentially lead to the greater conservation of elephants; the A.P. reports that each elephant within the coffee herd costs $1,000 per month to care for.