Photo: PeopleImages (Getty Images)
Drink it in. That sip just cost you $12. If you’ve ever stood in line at a hip
coffee joint and treated yourself to a $22 12-ounce bag of beans (followed by pangs of guilt), get ready to feel totally validated. “Bean water,” as some call it, has become one of the fastest growing beverage industries in the world. And while you can get a cup of coffee just about anywhere, there are certain bags so rare you’ll have to fork up some serious dough just to have a sniff. Forget farmers market java; this is the world of expensive, high-end coffee.
High End Coffee
Blue Bottle's Port of Mokha
While synonymous with high-end coffee, the furthest Blue Bottle has publicly dabbled in the world of upmarket came in 2016 with the introduction of this ultra-rare bean from Yemen. Claiming that their importer "traveled in a dinghy across the Red Sea with only two suitcases of coffee after having been kidnapped and mistaken for a Houthi rebel," this coffee has earned every ounce of its price tag (not to mention street cred).
Selling at a measly $130 per pound when it was released, we're guessing whatever stock remains of this celestial coffee has undergone a significant markup in recent months. Worth it!
Photo: Blue Bottle Coffee
Alpha Dominche Extraction Lab
Makers of the super-tech coffee extraction process dubbed "Steampunk," this Brooklyn-based coffee bar charged $18 a cup, despite what beans they used (they did use good beans). Apparently now defunct, the coffee bar shuttered its doors on Dec. 4 without a word of warning.
Now, if you want to enjoy a cup of their coffee, you can only do so through second-hand accounts, making this cup a priceless experience. Sorry Stu, it just doesn't taste the same when you tell it.
Photo: Alpha Dominate
Hacienda Esmerelda Geisha Canas Verdes Natural
You'll think someone spiked your coffee (in a good way). Expertly cultivated in the hills of Panama, this extraordinary bean dances between flavors of peach, jasmine, blackberry, and a host of other fruit flavors. Called "the King of Coffee" by international judge Mike Perry, this varietal is super rare. After the competition was over, there were only 100 pounds of this coveted coffee left, each pound fetching upwards of $600. Better than the price of an actual geisha? Why not combine the two, you filthy animal.
Photo: Hacienda Esmerelda
Black Ivory Coffee
This coffee's story is so bizarre, in a moment you'll start to question reality. Harvested in the mountains of Thailand, these Arabica cherries are fed to rescued elephants, who then shit them out. The "
processed" cherries are collected by pachyderm protectors, sorted for size (only the largest are kept), sun-dried, and cleaned by local schoolchildren.
The resulting flavor is a delightful mix of cocoa, cherries, spice, tobacco and leather, a hint of grass, and something you can't quite put your finger on. (It's the shit.) If you're not a five-star hotel, you can get your hands on a bag through the company's website, but it will cost you. A 1-pound bag sells for $1,000.
Photo: Black Ivory Coffees
Believe it or not, processing coffee cherries inside an animal's gut is not uncommon (in Southeast Asia anyway). This Indonesian coffee grower's slogan is, "Good to the last dropping." Like the elephants of Thailand, the cherry is fed to a palm civet (a rat-cat hybrid) whose stomach enzymes seep into the beans and reduce peptides and amino acids.
Believers claim the civet only eats the best cherries, proving that rat-cats
can grow up to be tastemakers. While normally a bag can sell for upwards of $600 a pound, right now a man you've never met is selling 33 pounds of civet coffee on eBay for $3,500. Sounds legit. Photo: Kopi Luwak
Ninety Plus Gesha Estates Lot #227
Get ready to have your mind blown -- then run amok as conspiracies about the underground luxury coffee world assault your brain. The record for highest priced coffee ever sold goes to lot #227 from the legendary Ninety Plus Gesha Estates who sold 1 kilogram of this godly bean for $5,001.50 (about $2,500 per pound).
Okay, now that you've recovered from your (totally reasonable) stroke, let's talk about it. Grown near Volcan, in Panama's interior, the stewardship and craft that goes into cultivating and harvesting this green coffee is insane. While Spock finds it most illogical, clearly luxury consumers have taken note. With a constellation of flavors including white peach, grapefruit zest, lilac, raspberry, jackfruit, star anise, cacao nib, guava, cola, wisteria, narcissus, dried orange peel, maple syrup, and loquat, the texture has been described as plush and velvety, with an appearance resembling Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. Damn, we wish we had $2.5K lying around. Who's in?
Photo: Ninety Plus