Skip to main content

The Amazing Story of the World’s Rarest Coffee

Jana shares caffeinated stories with readers who love tea and coffee.

Coffee beans

Coffee beans

Black Ivory coffee is the world’s rarest coffee. Just to give you an idea of how scarce this stuff can be: in 2022, only about 215 kilograms (474 pounds) were made. While most of this precious hoard goes to five-star hotels, a fraction is reserved for the Black Ivory company’s online store.

What Does Black Ivory Taste Like?

Rarity is always intriguing. However, nobody wants a cup of coffee that tastes like mud, no matter how exclusive the brand is! But here’s the good news. Coffee fans can look forward to notes of malt, spices, red cherry, chocolate, and faint traces of grass. There’s an extra bonus for those who dislike the acrid taste of coffee. Black Ivory does not hit the palate with a bitter aftertaste like most other coffees.

Yes, Real Elephants Are Involved

The name isn’t empty of meaning. The brew is dark enough to appear black and among the company’s most valued “employees” are several Thai elephants. Now that Black Ivory makes more sense, you are probably wondering what these pachyderms have to do with the whole thing. Well, they have a very tasty job. Speaking of which, that brings us to the next step in this fascinating story.

A herd of wild Thai elephants

A herd of wild Thai elephants

How Black Ivory Coffee Is Made

This story begins in a remote province of Thailand called Surin. The region has the perfect climate to grow Thai Arabica coffee cherries and once a crop is ready, only the best fruit is chosen and handed to families who are elephant caregivers. Here’s where things get a little . . . well, let’s just say some people might decide not to drink Black Ivory after learning about the next phase in the manufacturing process!

Naturally Refined

Sure, the coffee is touted as “naturally refined,” and that’s no lie. But when you remove the gilded wording, it simply means that the fruit went through the digestive systems of the elephants. The elephants are in no way forced to consume the coffee. The latter is mixed into their favorite foods and the berries are also perfectly safe and nutritious for them to eat. It can take up to 72 hours for the elephants to deposit the cherries. Their caregivers then separate the fruit from the rest of the waste.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Delishably

Preparation and Packaging

The next stage is to wash and sun-dry the cherries. The caregivers take the cherries to the local school where final year students are paid to rinse and rake the fruit across an open surface outdoors for sun-drying. Once dried, only the biggest cherries are selected to ensure a quality product and an even roast.

Once the beans are roasted, they are stored in a bag that is designed to keep the coffee fresh. Another reason why this coffee is known for its freshness is the fact that the manufacturer only roasts to order and never stores roasted beans. A client orders the coffee, the beans are then roasted, packed, and immediately shipped.

Raw coffee beans drying in the sun

Raw coffee beans drying in the sun

How Much Does It Cost?

The world’s rarest java doesn’t come cheap. While anyone can order products from their online store, be prepared for a stiff price tag. At the time of writing, here are some of their prices.

  • 15 Nespresso compatible capsules: $320
  • 1 (35g) pack of Black Ivory coffee: $130
  • 13 (35g) packs : $1,200
  • 29 (35g) packs: $2,500

Giving Back to the Community

The Black Ivory Coffee Company donates a portion of its profits to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. This foundation educates children about elephant welfare and also does a great job raising awareness about human-elephant conflicts. The salaries earned by the elephant caregivers and high school students also help people to provide for their families and further their education, and it also gives them the opportunity to earn more than they normally would at other rural jobs.

Bonus Facts

  • The coffee’s spice notes include leather and tobacco.
  • When drunk from a coffee glass, the chocolate notes are stronger.
  • Thirty-three kilograms of cherries produce 1 kilogram of Black Ivory coffee.
  • Cherries that are broken by the elephants’ chewing are used to make luxury soap.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Jana Louise Smit

Related Articles