What’s Floating in My Coffee Cup?
Other than frothy hearts of cream?
Well, I think that most java drinkers would hope for a smooth, silky elixir to jolt their neurons into a creative, colorful state of existence.
And for those who have followed this series, you might remember that I’ve been exploring the rainbow of coffee bean colors. I delved into blue and purple and a hint of red, but, this time I’m going to step outside of the rainbow . . . into that sky of inky black.
Black has always been a favorite color of mine. Because of it’s spectral all-inclusion. It doesn’t discriminate; it embraces community. It doesn’t scream: “Look at Me, and Me only!” It’s quiet, yet bold. It’s straightforward, yet mysterious. It plays a great background; it props up other colors from pastel to the fully-saturated; it outlines dynamically.
My private world is rather safely outlined in black and I live comfortably inside of that playground.
But now to the coffee carousel. And it’s not filled with painted ponies this time around. It’s noir.
It originates in northern Thailand. From Arabica coffee cherries that are eaten by a troupe of 20 or so elephants living in a refuge. It’s a brand known as Black Ivory Coffee – a majestic name that suggests imperial princesses sipping the brew from delicately painted ceramic cups in lush gardens.
Black Ivory has been described as “very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee” and is among the world’s most costly decoctions. It’s available at only a few luxury hotels in this solar system, and, I’ve heard that its price tag is $50.00 (US) per cup.
It’s sounding more and more regal. But what is the connection with the elephants, you may be wondering.
Well, they provide the sweetness through the assistance of their digestive enzymes, which break down the coffee’s protein. Protein = bitterness in the world of coffee.
So, imagine this: A large portion of coffee cherries being turned like a chile roaster inside the stomachs of 20 elephants for up to 70 hours. A fine aroma develops as the beans go a-courtin’ and marry among the other gastro-ingredients.
Elephants are herbivores and their systems use fermentation to break down cellulose, as most human vegetarians can attest to. But we can’t produce splendid, flavorful coffee even if we masticated coffee beans for years.
So, what’s the secret?
If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s elephant poop!
Yes, not for the squeamish, but it’s a fact. The exquisite essence of this dark, enigmatic drink is collected from the feces of elephants.
The expensive price tag is due in large part to the mathematics of an elephant’s gastrointestinal system. How hungry they are, how well they chew, and how far deep into the bush they choose to excrete.
What can be harvested intact is precious, indeed.
And many thanks are owed to the mahouts, the people who are assigned to this family profession in childhood; the people who bond lifelong with their special elephant . . . training, handling, and sorting through their droppings all for the palatial enjoyment of a handful of coffee connoisseurs.
*Source: Wikipedia and other uncredited internet articles.