What can we say about Black Ivory coffee? Only that it is the best coffee we have ever had – and we have had a few, to say the least! Honestly, we have tried a lot of different coffees on our travels and this one truly stands out from the crowd. However, it is not surprising as it is one of the rarest coffees in the world and we consider ourselves very lucky and greatly appreciate the opportunity that allowed us to taste this delicacy. First, let me introduce this coffee and you will see what all the hype is about.
There is an elephant sanctuary in Thailand’s remote rural village of Ban Ta Klang, Surin. There they take care of 15 elephants with unique dietary habits that are based on the elephant’s taste preferences. Understandably, we are not the only living being with taste differences. For example, some elephants like rice and salt, while others prefer fruit or sugar cane. In this sanctuary, all diets have one special ingredient in common which is the fruit called coffee cherries. Those ripe red coffee cherries are 100% Arabica, handpicked by women from the Acha tribe at an altitude of 1500 meters in Chiang Mai.
Thanks to elephants
Once ingested, the cherries are naturally refined for about 12 to 72 hours, depending on the food mixture and the amount of food that is already in the elephant’s stomach. During this time, the enzymes in the elephant’s digestive tract break down the protein of the fruit. This is the reason behind the low bitterness in the coffee. In the traditional process, there is also fermentation, but it is made in barrels and casks. This fermentation is different and the process allows the flavors of the coffee cherry to infuse into the bean. After all, we tasted Weasel coffee back in Vietnam, but there was a huge moral question behind it and the taste wasn’t outstanding. Here, they give 8% of their all sales to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which tries to educate children about elephant care and to warn them about the human and elephant conflict.
Later in the process, there are people who collect the ingested beans and final year high school students are paid to wash, rake and dry out the coffee cherries in the sun. To get perfectly roasted Black Ivory Coffee, they pick only the intact beans. As you might know, broken beans get an uneven roast. The result of this is that they need 33kg of coffee cherries to produce 1kg of Black Ivory Coffee. Per year, they produce only 120kg of Black Ivory Coffee, which makes it one of the rarest coffees in the world. The roasting is done on demand, so freshness is guaranteed.
This coffee was brewed with a siphon coffee brewer, which is perfect for developing the taste of the coffee. As a bonus, it is also a eye candy. This kind of French style brewer dates back to the 1840s and it works on the principle of boiling water being pushed through a metal pipe. Water is actually two degrees Celsius below boiling point, the ideal temperature for coffee brewing. When the hot water touches the coffee, its temperature decreases a little bit and becomes the perfect point for oil and flavor extraction. There is no paper filter here that could potentially spoil the taste. As a result, with this brewing method, you get less bitterness and a totally different taste of coffee. Some even describe it as “the most perfect coffee preparation”, as it extracts the cleanest taste out of the coffee. I don’t know how different the Black Ivory Coffee would be if we would make it with some other method. We were more than happy with the result and this preparation is one of the most stylish out there. Due to this unique brewing technique, the color of coffee is light brown with golden and reddish tones.
The Taste of Black Ivory coffee
This is one of the most complex and full-bodied coffees we have ever had. The aroma is extended and well-balanced. At first, there are some fruity notes of cherries with earth, leather, and butter. On the palate, we could feel a hint of fresh grass with a complete absence of bitterness. On the second round, when coffee is a little bit cooler, it develope a delightful chocolaty aroma with even more distinct leather. The fruity aroma isn’t there anymore: interesting! The taste truly is distinctive with well-balanced acidity. Drinking this smooth liquid is a joy that we want to last so much longer. We especially like the velvety feel that lingered in our mouths after each sip. The finish is long, full of chocolate and caramel notes. Still no bitterness, only a feeling of “I want more!”
If there would be a blind tasting, I would give this coffee a 10/10. When you get to know the story and mission, it’s more like a 11/10, no doubt about it. It is nice to see socially responsible producers and we support that. Black Ivory Coffee makers pay 14 times the wage of the average coffee picker to the women who are picking the coffee berries: this is fairtrade at its best. I must give compliments also to the Hyatt Erawan Tea Room, where we had the pleasure of tasting this amazing coffee. After all, they are supporting them by distributing this heart-warming coffee and making it available to the consumers. If you ever have a chance to try it, do not hesitate.
How much will Black Ivory Coffee cost you? On their site, it is an 85 USD price for 35g / 1.23oz of whole roasted Black Ivory Coffee, which would serve approximately five espresso size cups. Yes, it is expensive but totally worth it. Treat yourself and help a community at the same time!
Black Ivory Coffee review card
- PACKAGE DESIGN - 9.6/109.6/10
- AROMA - 9.4/109.4/10
- BODY - 9.7/109.7/10
- FLAVOR - 9.8/109.8/10
- TASTE - 10/1010/10
- AFTERTASTE - 9.3/109.3/10
- VALUE - 9/109/10
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