Think of the elephant as the animal kingdom's equivalent of a slow cooker. It takes between 15-30 hours to digest the beans, which stew together with bananas, sugar cane and other ingredients in the elephant's vegetarian diet to infuse unique earthy and fruity flavors, said the 42-year-old Canadian, who has a background in civet coffee.
"My theory is that a natural fermentation process takes place in the elephant's gut," said Dinkin. "That fermentation imparts flavors you wouldn't get from other coffees."
My theory is the process takes place in the coffee drinker's head. Personally I would prefer to taste coffee as opposed to the slowly rotting contents of an elephant's gut. But that's just me. This is not to say that Mr. Dinkin is not a marketing genius. He certainly knows how to part a fool from his money, more power to him.
Still, just to remind us that we live in an upside down world, no elephants were harmed in the making of this coffee:
"My initial thought was about caffeine — won't the elephants get wired on it or addicted to coffee?" said John Roberts, director of elephants at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a refuge for rescued elephants. It now earns 8 percent of the coffee's total sales, which go toward the herd's healthcare. "As far as we can tell there is definitely no harm to the elephants."
Before presenting his proposal to the foundation, Dinkin said he worked with a Canadian-based veterinarian that ran blood tests on zoo elephants showing they don't absorb any caffeine from eating raw coffee cherries.
Why am I picturing elephants in berets and black turtlenecks sipping expresso and clicking tusks at a coffeehouse poetry reading? It's kind of sad that elephants can't absorb the caffeine. They would get so much more done, stay up late and stuff. On the other hand, if I'm going to drop a Grant on a cup of coffee, I'd like to get the buzz myself, thank you very much. I don't know about elephants, but if you want to see something really scary, try giving me decaf.