Buying locally roasted single-origin beans rather than cheap supermarket coffee will reward you with superior flavor and delicate tasting notes. While the prices may vary, they stay within a similar price range. But what about coffee that is 10 or 100 times more expensive than a regular bag of beans?
We’ll cover the most expensive coffees in the world, the reasons for the steep price tags, and what you can expect from these coffees if you decide to splurge.
1. Black Ivory Coffee (around $1,500 per pound)
The most expensive coffee in the world is only produced in Northern Thailand, where it is available in exclusive high-end resorts for around $50 per cup.
The reason behind the high price is mostly due to the extravagant processing method, which involves the digestive tract of elephants.
Yes, that’s right. The beans are first ingested by elephants, then activated by particular enzymes during digestion. This gets rid of the bitter taste and makes coffee smooth and flavorful.
The problem is that most beans get over chewed and fragmented, which means that the process yields a very small amount of coffee. And the extreme rarity contributes to the excessive price of Black Ivory Coffee.
2. Kopi Luwak ($200-600 per pound)
The second most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak, and the Black Ivory coffee have one thing in common - the beans are both digested by an animal before they make their way into the cup.
Kopi Luwak is an Indonesian luxury coffee that is produced in Bali, which is eaten and digested by an Asian palm civet. The reason for the exclusivity of this coffee is that the civet has the taste for the best biggest beans and only selects the sweetest and freshest coffee cherries. This creates a diligent natural harvesting method that ensures the superior quality of the beans.
Kopi Luwak is also surrounded by controversy. The reality is that civets are often kept in inhumane conditions and force-fed only coffee beans, which is cruel for the animals as well as defeating the purpose of civets naturally selecting the best beans.
The popularity of Kopi Luwak in Bali created a massive scam culture, and the coffee became a way of tricking tourists rather than selling a genuine product. Today, it is estimated that only 10% of coffee sold as Kopi Luwak has actually been digested by the palm civet.
3. Finca El Injerto ($500 per pound)
This expensive coffee comes from a hilly region of Huehuetenango in Guatemala. This location is unique for its high altitude of more than 5,500 feet above sea level, which creates great conditions for growing coffee.
The Finca El Injerto coffee comes from a single farm that used to be a sugarcane plot. The beans are extremely rare and known for their nuanced fruity sweet taste. The unique taste profile of this coffee has been internationally recognized, with the beans winning numerous awards, including the Cup of Excellence several times.
With the beans being so limited, you need to be careful to only shop for them from reputable sources, because the question of how much of this coffee is actually genuine remains.
4. Hacienda la Esmeralda ($350 per pound)
Coffee from Hacienda la Esmeralda is cultivated on the sides of Mount Baru in Panama in the shade of guava trees. It is known as the number one producer of Gesha coffee.
This coffee is renowned for its great rich taste, fruity and floral flavor that has rose and berry, as well as lavender tasting notes.
All the coffee produced is handpicked and processed directly at the farm, which is known for its commitment and quality.
The farm has earned the reputation of one of the top coffee producers in the world and has won several awards recognizing its taste.
5. Saint Helena ($80 per pound)
Going down the list, we are now moving to the coffees that don’t have astronomical prices but are still significantly more expensive than a regular bag of beans, starting with coffee from Saint Helena.
These beans are grown on the Saint Helena island in the south Atlantic, 1,200 miles from the west coast of Africa. It is an island where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1815, which adds to the exclusivity of the location.
This island grows special green-tipped Arabica beans that only grow in St Helena and are known for their delicate flavor profile. These beans are often referred to as the Pinot Noir of coffee. When tasting St Helena coffee, you can expect a delicious caramel flavor with a hint of citrusy notes.
However, the beans are hard to grow and hard to transport from the remote island. The rarity and the location contribute to the premium cost of St Helena beans.
6. Molokai Coffee ($60 per pound)
This coffee comes from the Hawaiian archipelago, specifically from a smaller island Molokai, an area that enjoys some of the best coffee growing conditions.
This, combined with years of skill and development of the harvesting process, results in these delicious beans.
The Molokai coffee, often labeled as Molokai Prime, is a Red Catuai variety that thrives in the volcanic soils of Hawaiian islands and presents rich tasting notes in your cup.
7. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee ($50 per pound)
Blue Mountain coffee comes from the Jamaican Blue Mountains and is grown at altitudes of around 5,000 feet. The conditions that guarantee heavy rainfall and well-fertilized soil offer an ideal climate that makes the coffee beans flourish.
The taste of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is mild without any strong or unpleasant aftertaste. This coffee is very smooth and popular with people who don’t like the bitterness in coffee. This coffee is most popular in Japan, which is the biggest importer of this brand.
8. Fazenda Santa Inês ($50 per pound)
Fazenda Santa Ines is a representative from South America in the world of expensive coffee. Their coffee is grown in Brazil, near the Mantiquera mountains.
The unique characteristic of this coffee is that it is grown using natural mineral water springs in the mountainous area, which produces an especially clean taste profile. You can expect a sweet flavor with notes of caramel and plenty of fruity tasting characteristics that have been recognized by the Cup of Excellence.
Apart from the incredible taste, the area has over 100 years of coffee-growing experience, which has made it earn its fanbase all around the world of people who are willing to pay the higher price.
9. Kona Coffee ($34 per pound)
The last expensive spot on our list is reserved for Kona coffee, grown specifically in the Kona districts of Hawaii, which enjoys the perfect conditions for growing coffee beans.
Kona coffee is known for its unique flavor and great taste. It is a rare variety that only offers a limited supply that cannot cope with the demand.
As a result, most retailers don’t use 100% Kona variety and add only 10% of Kona coffee to their beans. If you want to experience the unique flavors, make sure you select 100% Kona.
Paying extra for good quality coffee is worth it, but are these most expensive coffees worth their steep price tag?
While some coffees earn the price point for their incredible taste, more often than not the price comes from the fact that these coffees are extremely rare and hard to get.
If you decide to splurge on the beans, make sure you’re getting them from a trusted supplier to avoid being scammed and paying premium prices for average coffee.