You might be surprised at the number of people willing to pay a large sum of cash to drink elephant poop. Well, not poop, exactly, but coffee beans that have passed through an elephant’s digestive tract and have been expelled from the other end. USA Today explains the peculiar situation:
In the lush hills of northern Thailand, a herd of 20 elephants is excreting some of the world’s most expensive coffee.
Trumpeted as earthy in flavor and smooth on the palate, the exotic new brew is made from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung. A gut reaction inside the elephant creates what its founder calls the coffee’s unique taste.
Stomach turning or oddly alluring, this is not just one of the world’s most unusual specialty coffees. At $500 per pound, it’s also among the world’s priciest.
So, how is it? ”Very interesting,” tells one brave taste-tester to USA Today. “Very novel.”
Elephants are not the only animals whose excrement people can pay to have the privilege to sip on. Civets – a type of nocturnal small carnivore – are also used to such purposes in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam. The Economist describes:
Three years ago Mr Hung and three partners started Legend Revived, a high-end brand in Ho Chi Minh City that sells chon beans in Vietnam, Britain and Norway at $500 per kilogram (“The finest gift from Vietnam”).
Today most chon merchants don’t look in the wild for manure, but rent out farms for their cats to roam, chew (often less than a fifth of the ripest beans) and then let nature take its course. After farmers collect and wash the droppings, they dry them in the sun for weeks until the outer skin falls off. Brewers then use one of several methods for roasting the beans. One popular approach involves dashing the beans with sugar, salt and butter, and then giving them a medium or light roast over some coffee-tree wood (a heavy roast would cause the sugary beans to lose their natural taste).
But the story doesn’t end with elephants and civets helping coffee connoisseurs get their caffeine fix. From elephant poo coffee now comes elephant poo beer. The beer is made from those same coffee beans, which have been fermented into the alcohol. In Japan, apparently, the elephant poo brew is becoming a big thing, where it goes by the name ‘Un, Kono Kuro.’ The Drinks Business reports:
The Sankt Gallen brewery called the beer a “chocolate stout”, despite it not containing any chocolate.
Mr Sato, from Japanese website RocketNews24.com, tasted the beer and said: “After taking my first sip there was an initial bitterness that got washed over by a wave of sweetness. Following that, a mellow body rolled in and spread out through my mouth.
“Usually people talk about aftertaste when drinking beer but with Un, Kono Kuro the word afterglow is much more appropriate.
“After downing the last drop, slowly rising from my throat and mouth was that afterglow. The combination of bitter and sweet stayed fresh and lingered in my head. It was a familiar aroma that accompanied me through the entire beer.”
The bottles quickly sold out on the brewery’s website, but the company promises that the elephant beer will soon be served on tap at their Tokyo location.
And not to be outdone, the civets also offer their own version of digested coffee bean beer. From Eating Goodly:
Last week, my friend, Charles, gave me a really cool Danish beer for my birthday: Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch (Weasel). It’s an Imperial Oatmeal Stout “brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from droppings of weasel-like civet cats.”
It was without a doubt one of the wildest beer’s I’ve ever had. It poured like liquid lead, eliciting an “Oh my god.” from my roommate. The mouthfeel matched the appearance – thick, thick, thick. It felt like cool mocha syrup. Flavors were just as dense – mostly rich coffee with dark chocolate, butterscotch, and a good amount of clean (and much needed) bitter acidity on the back and sides of the tongue. This beer was huge in body, flavor, and concept. I’m not sure if I’ll ever crave a beer like this, but going along for the ride was awesome.
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