Not all coffees are identical or even comparable in taste. This seems to be a fact of life. Some are stronger, some are more flavorful, and some are more acidic. It may come to you as no surprise that the same is true for the price of coffee as well.
Some coffees are just more expensive than others. In this article, we'll look at the most expensive coffees from around the world and whether they're actually worth the cost or just hype.
If you're good with trivia, or a coffee aficionado in general, you'd know the most expensive coffee in the world is Kopi Luwak. Costing anywhere from around 160 USD per pound to up to 600 USD per pound, Kopi Luwak is rightfully the world's most expensive coffee. The high cost is of Kopi Luwak is not due to the taste, as many industry experts have claimed that the coffee tastes "thin".
According to the official cupping test of the SCA, they note that the partial digestion of the cherries by the civets strips the coffee of many natural oils, which diminishes the acidity and flavor of the coffee to add an overall smoothness. The high price is mainly due to the difficulty in obtaining the coffee cherries, wherein a lot of effort is needed to find feces containing partially digested coffee cherries by wild civets.
Due to the hype of Kopi Luwak, many illegal civet farms have come up, wherein they keep these civets in inhumane conditions and try to harvest as many defecated coffee cherries as they can. Due to this exploitation, a large lobby both nationally and internationally is pushing against Kopi Luwak.
Another really expensive coffee that people absolutely fawn over is the Esmeralda Geisha coffee. It costs anywhere from 50 USD to 150 USD per pound. Originally grown in Ethiopia, it was recognized by the British consul located there in the 1930s and was exported to other parts of the world, most notably Tanzania and Costa Rica. From Costa Rica, it made its way to the famed Boquete Region of Panama.
Unlike the Kopi Luwak, the Esmeralda Geisha commands its high price due to its flavor profile. The coffee cherries produce a coffee that has a consistently high cupping score. The flavor profile is said to be one of medium acidity, with a range of citrusy notes and a juicy body.
So, if we were to compare the Geisha coffee with Kopi Luwak in a head-to-head, it becomes clear that the Kopi Luwak is sold at a higher price because of the effort it takes to gather the cherries in a humane way, and because of the exotic story associated with it, as opposed to its taste. Whereas Geisha coffee commands its high price purely on the basis of taste.
Another coffee crop that produces an expensive coffee bean is the Ospina coffee crop—grown in the volcanic ash of one of the oldest coffee plantations in Colombia. Coffee trees typically need 3-5 years before they begin producing cherries, and thus it takes quite a bit of time to know whether a coffee bean is worth it or not.
Since the Ospina's have been in business from the middle of the nineteenth century, they have had the time to cultivate and selectively breed some of the best coffee plants. The Ospina coffee costs around 120 USD for a pound and is famed for its warm caramel base with a hint of nuttiness complemented by a smooth, clean finish.
While there are other coffees out there with a similarly high price tag, we felt these three were worth highlighting. Particularly to mention the difference in price a good coffee commands on the grounds of taste versus hype. So now that we've discussed the defining characteristics of the most expensive coffees in the world, are you looking forward to trying one out?