A special thanks to San Antonio Magazine for such a beautiful write up!
The Elephant Story
BY NIKO MEDRANO
PHOTO COURTESY THE ELEPHANT STORY
Elephants don’t typically come up in conversations about coffee, but in Thailand and the Maldives, the large animal is the key to a brand of coffee served in five-star hotels. Now, Texans can have a taste of exclusive Black Ivory Coffee thanks to the Hill Country shop, The Elephant Story. Husband and wife Ed and Joey Story founded the store in Comfort in 2012. Filled with apparel and gifts, many of which are created by Asian artisans, the store donates its net profits to elephant conservation organizations. “They’re such intelligent animals,” says Ed Story. It was during travels to Asia—a region the couple now visits every six weeks—that the Stories fell in love with elephants and decided they wanted to do something to ensure they were protected. When they learned about Black Ivory Coffee on one of their trips, they connected with the company and became the first retailer in the Western Hemisphere to offer it. Customers can try the delicacy with single-cup servings in the store or purchase a bag of beans to enjoy at home (the Stories recommend calling to reserve coffee due to recent high demand). So howdo elephants help make the coffee? Elephants in Thailand are fed special Thai Arabica coffee cherries (coffee beans incased in their shells), and as they travel through the animals’ digestive systems, protein—the element that can lead to coffee’s bitter taste—is extracted from the coffee cherries. The cherries are collected after the elephants deposit them and then shelled, thoroughly cleaned and lightly roasted. Ed Story says the coffee beans have a rich flavor that can be enjoyed black or with a touch of sugar to enhance the complexity of the flavors. Funds from the coffee support the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which works to improve the lives of captive elephants and to support conservation efforts for wild elephants in northern Thailand.