Blake Dinkin's $50-a-cup Black Ivory coffee was launched last month at a handful of luxury resorts. Made in the hills of northern Thailand from beans that have travelled through an elephant's gut, it provides 'flavours you wouldn't get from other coffees,' Mr. Dinkin told AP.
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Asleigh Nelson, 32, an American tourist from Tampa, Fla., tastes a cup of $1,100-per-kilogram Black Ivory coffee at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Dec. 3, 2012. The $50-a-cup brew is produced by Canadian entrepreneur Blake Dinkin from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of Thai elephants.
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NiNiang Homhuan, 37, a Thai mahout’s wife, picks coffee beans out of elephant dung at a camp in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Mr. Dinkin has teamed with a herd of 20 elephants, gourmet roasters and one of Thailand’s top hotels to produce Black Ivory coffee.
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Blake Dinkin, left, the 42-year-old founder of Black Ivory coffee, watches as a Thai mahout feeds Meena, a 12-year-old elephant, Arabica coffee beans mixed with fruit.
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Mahouts or elephant keepers take their elephants for a morning bath in the Ruak River near the elephant camp in Chiang Rai province. Mr. Dinkin said he consulted a veterinarian to ensure the elephants would not absorb any caffeine.
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Niang Homhuan walks past an elephant while searching for elephant dung. ‘When an elephant eats coffee, its stomach acid breaks down the protein found in coffee, which is a key factor in bitterness,’ Blake Dinkin told AP.
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Pimnipa Petkla, 39, a Thai mahout’s wife, sifts through elephant dung for coffee beans. While the unique brew has attracted its share of jokes, the first 70-kilogram batch sold out.
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A coffee bean is picked from elephant dung. It takes 33 kilograms of raw coffee cherries – which contain the beans – to produce one kilogram of finished coffee, since much of the original is damaged or lost.
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A waitress pours Black Ivory coffee into a cup at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.
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Ryan Nelson, 31, an American tourist from Tampa, Fla., sips Black Ivory coffee at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province. ‘I thought it would be repulsive, but I loved it,’ he told AP.
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Blake Dinkin, who attended York University in Toronto and the University of Geneva, holds a basket of coffee cherries that will be mixed with fruit and fed to the elephants.
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A Thai mahout’s wife jokingly poses with a plastic basket, containing coffee beans freshly cleaned from elephant dung, below the tail of one of the elephants.
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In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2012, Black Ivory coffee is poured into a cup at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province. It is available only at a few luxury resorts, including one in Abu Dhabi.