Interested in trying the world’s most expensive coffee? You might be surprised at the key ingredient that makes up this unique blend – it’s not gold dust, nor will you find this one at Starbuck’s.
Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas has introduced Black Ivory Coffee at its four resorts in the Maldives, joining the group's Anantara Golden Triangle resort in Thailand as the first hotels in the world to offer one of the most unique coffee experiences on the planet. Black Ivory Coffee is created from a process where 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 kilogram, this coffee is also one of the most expensive and exclusive in the world. 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 (yes, this means elephant dung), and the individual beans are handpicked by mahouts (an elephant trainer and carer) and their wives to be 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 recognized 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 flavorful taste - which is also visually enticing.
"We are delighted to be amongst the first hotels in the world to offer this one-of-a-kind coffee experience that also has a positive impact in the lives of Thai elephants," explained Dillip Rajakarier, CEO Minor Hotel Group with includes Anantara. "It perfectly and flavourfully fits the philosophy of Anantara Resorts to afford our story collecting travellers unique experiences in a destination that appeases more than just aesthetic senses."