Of course I have already told you a lot about specialty coffee and what makes this coffee so special and in some cases even rare. But as you know, there is always more, more exclusive and more special, no matter what niche you look at. This also applies to the niche specialty coffee.
In my search for the rarest coffee in the world, I came across something I had never heard of before. Black Ivory Coffee.
So it seems that this coffee, originating from Thailand, is the rarest and most exclusive coffee in the world that you can only drink in luxury hotels and 5-star restaurants.
I thought I knew everything about coffee beans, but I had never come across this one. But I dove in. It's going to be crazy, really crazy, believe me.
It has something to do with elephants, I think that's where the bit of Ivory comes from, fermentation and coffee of course. Read on with me in my quest for this rarest coffee.
The History of Black Ivory Coffee
Blake came up with the inventive idea of having Arabica coffee beans eaten by elephants and then fishing them out of the droppings. It looks a bit like Kopi Luwak , but an upgraded version, so to speak.
Dinkin wanted to create a coffee Boone where you don't taste the 'roast' but really taste the coffee. Black Ivory coffee therefore has floral taste notes combined with chocolate, without bitters.
From the start Blake believed in his success, otherwise he would never have invested ten years of his time and all his savings in it.
The goal was to save elephants from exploitation for tourism purposes and to create a shelter camp for these elephants. The diet of these rescued animals therefore consists mainly of 100% Arabica coffee beans that are eaten, fermented in the elephant's stomach, and then excreted by the elephants.
'That's weird' 🤔
Read below how the rarest coffee is harvested.
How is the rarest coffee in the world harvested?
The entire harvesting process, like other types of coffee beans, starts with selecting and picking only the ripest coffee beans. These coffee beans grow at an altitude of about 1500 meters.
These ripe coffee beans are brought to the town of Surin where the elephants are housed in a shelter. Here the coffee beans are mixed with the elephants' favorite food. Such as rice, banana and other tropical fruits.
Once eaten by the elephant, the fermentation process begins, which can take 12 to 72 hours, depending on what else the elephant has eaten [ 1 ].
Once defecated by the elephant, the pickers will do their job.
These coffee beans, which have been fished out from among the faeces of the elephants, are then placed on drying beds and dried in the sun. This is in fact the Natural process which is further explained in the coffee processing methods blog.
When the coffee beans are sufficiently dried and contain the correct moisture content, they are sorted by hand according to defects and size.
According to the Black Ivory Coffee website, it takes about 33 kilograms of coffee beans to make 1 kilogram of Black Ivory Coffee.
Is the rarest coffee in the world worth the money?
Black Ivory Coffee:Source Black Ivory Coffee
Very honest. I haven't drunk it yet and to be honest I always find such coffees a bit debatable. Often you pay for the story and the quality is just good but not exceptional.
With an economical € 2000 per kilogram you would think that you have gold in your hands.
Let's start with the flavor profile. This one is complex with floral and chocolate flavor notes. This is not unique if I'm being honest. A good Ethiopian specialty coffee can also contain these taste characteristics. And for about € 40/50 per kilo you really have a gem in your hands.
In addition, the coffee is not bitter. Good thing, because I don't really like that myself. This makes the Black Ivory Coffee very soft and gives you a tea-like experience.
In addition, the coffee is sweet and, as I mentioned, chocolate predominates. So do you like your cup of coffee, but don't want too much sugar in it. Fortunately, that is not necessary with the rarest coffee in the world.
In summary, a complex taste with few bitters and very sweet with notes of chocolate. In terms of first impression, I don't think it's worth € 2000 per kilo. It will undoubtedly be a lot tastier than the standard coffee from the supermarket, but good specialty coffee can be really good.
Let's go a little deeper…
What makes the rarest coffee in the world so expensive
Of course it's an unorthodox way of producing coffee, let's face it.
For this coffee, only the ripest Arabica coffee beans are picked and fed to the elephants. Because these coffee beans grow at an altitude of 1500 meters, the picking process is quite a complicated one. The area where these high quality coffee beans grow is also limited and the supply is therefore limited [ 2 ].
Once the coffee has been defecated and sorted, only the good looking coffee beans of equal size are used for the final product. Because the elephant chews on its food, many of the coffee beans do not survive the process and these flat chewed coffee beans are unusable for the end product.
All excrement must be carefully checked for usable coffee beans, which is also a labour-intensive job involving many hands.
All these factors make it a costly process and make it a scarce product, which determines the price to some extent.
Ultimately, it is the exceptional story and the exclusivity in which it is marketed in my opinion the reason for this high price.
But then again, I've never had this coffee.
Black Ivory coffee vs Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak, of course, has a similar story to Black Ivory Coffee. In both species, coffee beans are eaten by an animal.
Due to the enzymes in the stomach of the animals, a fermentation process takes place, which apparently gives the coffee beans a very special and complex flavor profile.
But still, both types of coffee are not quite the same.
Blake likes to talk about why his Black Ivory Coffee is better and tastier than Kopi Luwak [ 3 ]. The first difference is that unlike Civet cats, elephants are herbivores.
Herbivores eat a lot of grass and other vegetables. A herbivore uses fermentation to process and digest all these vegetables. Fermentation is great for coffee, for example, because it brings out the sugars in the coffee beans. It also helps to infuse the fruity flavor of the berry into the bean.
According to Blake, this fermentation process helps reduce the bitterness that makes the coffee so unique.
In terms of taste, both coffees are described as complex, smooth and without bitters.
The price of Kopi Luwak is somewhat lower than that of the rarest coffee in the world, Black Ivory Coffee, but still falls into the very exclusive price category.
You can buy a kilo of Kopi Luwak from about € 700 . But it is not affordable, at least not for me as a daily cup of coffee.
The rarest coffee in the world is Black Ivory Coffee from Thailand. It certainly has the most special story in my opinion. Unfortunately I haven't been able to taste the coffee itself yet, but maybe I can do that again someday.
In terms of process, it is quite similar to that otherwise rare type of coffee, Kopi Luwak, but the effect is slightly different.
Personally, with such coffees, I always feel that you pay for the hype and for the unique story behind it. But whether the quality is the rarest you've ever tasted, I doubt it.
What is your experience with Black Ivory Coffee?