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'Trendy' Elephant Poop Coffee Taking off in Vietnam

Vietnam is known for its cafe chồn, coffee beans that are ingested, pooped out by weasels and sold at prices far higher than the normal variety. Now, a Vietnamese breeder is adopting a similar technique with his herd of elephants.

Coffee beans digested by elephants made international headlines in 2012 when breeders in Thailand began to sell the special brew for US$50 per cup.

Seeing a chance to cash in on the trend, Dang Nang Long, an elephant breeder near Lak Lake, which lies 56 kilometers to the south of Buon Ma Thuot, decided to try his hand at producing the special beans which are said to give off a “fragrant” smell and taste “slightly bitter,” “buttery” and "like chocolate," according to Thanh Nien, citing VietNamNet.

In addition to being fed the best local coffee cherries, the elephants’ diet consists of corn flour, banana, pineapple and jackfruit.

After being collected from the elephant's dung (at a rate of five kilos of beans per lump on average), the beans are dried in the sun and washed in alcohol before being roasted and ground.

Long says that the product is a win-win as it brings in higher revenues than tourism-related activities for owners and spares elephants from being overworked.

The beans sell for VND2.4 million per kilogram, much cheaper than their cafe chồn counterparts that go for VND10.6 – 21.2 million per kilogram.

It will be interesting to see if the same technique can be applied to other animals. Tiger poop coffee sounds intriguing all of a sudden…

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