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Exclusive Coffee's Secret? Elephant Dung

Anantara Resorts, one of the world's most expensive resort chains, has debuted some of the world's costliest coffee at its Maldives properties. Just one thing though: The coffee beans are harvested from elephant dung.

The coffee is also offered at Anantara's Golden Triangle property in Thailand.

The coffee beans, called Black Ivory and priced at $1,100 per kilogram, are digested by an elephant before you drink it.

There are only 50 kilograms, or about 110 pounds, currently for sale.

According to the resort, Black Ivory coffee beans are "naturally refined" by Thai elephants. Research indicates that during digestion, the enzymes of the elephant break down coffee protein, according to the resort. Protein is one of the factors responsible for bitterness in coffee: less protein, less bitterness.

The coffee is ground by hand and brewed table side in a four-minute process. The fragrance is said to be floral and chocolate and the taste "milk chocolate, nutty, earthy with hints of spice and red berries."

Thai Arabica beans are picked from an altitude of 1500 meters (about 5000 feet) and fed to the elephants. "Once deposited by the elephants, the individual beans are handpicked by mahouts (elephant trainer and care giver) and their wives and sun dried."

Refinement of the coffee takes place at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, an elephant conservation program. According to the resort, 8 percent of sales will fund an elephant veterinarian specialist to provide free care to the animals. Additional funds will be used to provide medicine and a new laboratory.

Black Ivory isn't the first coffee in the world to come out of animal dung. Civet coffee, priced at several hundred dollars per pound, is harvested from the civet cats' of Southeast Asia's excrement.

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