The Black Ivory blend, made from coffee beans digested and excreted by Thai elephants, is billed as producing a particularly smooth cup. But it is not cheap, with Anantara Hotels saying the “naturally refined” coffee costs a staggering $1,100 per kilogram — making it one of the most expensive blends in the world. “Research indicates that during digestion, the enzymes of the elephant break down coffee protein,” the Thai-based hotel group, which is selling the pungent brew at around $50 for two cups, said in a statement sent to AFP Thursday. Once the elephants have digested the coffee berries, the beans are picked out of their dung by mahouts — their trainers — and then sun-dried. The process is carried out at the hotel’s elephant rescue centre in Thailand’s north where 30 of the beasts live along with mahouts and their families.