Elephants are likely one of the last things jittery coffee junkies think about while waiting for their latest shot of caffeine.
But these ponderous pachyderms are essential in the production of the latest brew from Black Ivory Coffee, a Thai company. The elephants, pictured above going for an early morning bath in northern Thailand on December 10, ingest Thai arabica coffee beans, digest them, and then expel them.
Workers pluck the processed beans from the elephant dung, wash them, and then roast them. Each serving costs about $50.
Asian elephants aren't the only animals involved in this type of 'refining' process. Asian palm civets are perhaps the most famous example of an animal whose digestive tract mellows the bitterness found in coffee beans.
Why We Love It
"The repetition of the elephants make this idyllic scene fascinating."—Amina El Banayosy, photo intern
"This picture is like a daydream, temporarily transplanting me somewhere far from the chaos and noise of city life. The pop of color in the first rider's red shirt, the sun pouring through dark clouds, and the ripples of water forming from the wading elephant are all nice details in this serene frame."—Ben Fitch, associate photo editor