Would you drink elephant dung coffee?

In the lush, green hills of northern Thailand, a woman painstakingly picks coffee beans out of a pile of elephant dung, an essential part of making one the world’s most expensive beverages.

This remote corner of Thailand bordering Myanmar and Laos is better known for drug smuggling than coffee, but Blake Dinkin decided it was perfect for a legitimate enterprise that blends conservation with business.

“When I explained my project to the mahouts (elephant riders), I know that they thought I was crazy,” the 44-year-old Canadian founder of Black Ivory Coffee, which uses the digestive tract of elephants to create a high-end brew for coffee connoisseurs.

Initially, he considered using civet cats to make “kopi luwak” coffee, which uses beans collected from the droppings of the Asian cats. But the quality of the end product has weakened as demand has grown in Southeast Asia – including in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

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