According to the National Coffee Association, more than 62 percent of adult Americans drink coffee every day and more than 81 percent say they’ve had a cup of joe within the past year. Americans drink a lot of coffee. Not quite as much as the most voracious coffee-loving nations – Finland and Norway top the list – but certainly enough for coffee to have become an integral part of American culture.
Nowadays, most people don’t bat an eye when handing over $3 or $4 dollars for a cup of joe. Indeed, your average morning coffee is one of those you-know-you-shouldn’t expenses that probably average $20 a week at least but you just can’t help yourself, right? But, if a $4 dollar cup of coffee doesn’t make a coffee lover flinch, maybe an $80 dollar one will. If you really want to treat yourself, the most luxurious types of coffee are generally readily accessible, but for a price – and a very high price, at that.
10. Hawaiian Kona Coffee: $34 / pound
Most people associate Hawaii with sun, sand, and lush landscapes, but Hawaii is also known for producing some of the world’s finest and most upscale coffee. On the Big Island of Hawaii, the mild climate and rich soil in the North and South Kona Districts help produce a smooth and mellow coffee. By law, only coffee grown in the Kona Districts can be described as Kona coffee and must be labeled “100% Kona coffee.” Beware of Kona ‘blends’, though. Kona blends typically contain only 10 percent Kona bean and are mixed with a cheaper imported bean, such as Brazilian or Columbian. A pound of 100 percent Kona coffee will set a coffee lover back about $34.00 or more, depending on the brand.
9. Los Planes: $40 / pound
Described as the cream of the crop of El Salvador, Los Planes won 2nd place at the 2006 Cup of Excellence and took home 6th place in 2011. Grown in northwestern El Salvador, Los Planes is de-pulped and dried by the farmers who grow it. Apparently, many coffee farmers outsource the de-pulping and drying process, which often leads to a lesser quality bean. Revered for it’s caramel and citrus flavors, Los Planes sells for about $40 dollars a pound.
8. Starbucks – Quadriginoctuple Frap: $48 / cup
Compared to the rest of the bunch, this single cup of coffee is a stunner. The quality of the coffee may not be as good as say, Kopi Luwak, but the price of this cup of joe ranks right up there with the best brews. Dubbed the “quadriginoctuple frap,” it’s supposedly the world’s most expensive Starbucks drink ever. After researching other costly Starbucks coffee concoctions, a determined Washington man decided he could break the record and headed to the closest Starbucks location. The venti 48 shot mocha Frappuccino soy mocha drizzle matcha powder protein powder caramel brulee topping with strawberry, two bananas, caramel drizzle Frappuccino chips and vanilla bean coffee he ordered came to a grand total of $47.30! The drink was so big, it had to be put in a 52 oz. mug and was apparently, so sweet it took the man a couple of days to drink.
7. Fazenda Santa Ines: $50 / pound
Fazenda Santa Ines, a coffee known for it’s sweet and fruity tones, has a rich history. Grown near the base of Brazil’s Mantiquera Mountains, Fazenda Santa Ines has been cultivated by the same family for more than 100 years. Grown using the area’s natural mineral water and processed naturally (sun dried), Fazenda Santa Ines is, for many, more than worth the hefty $50 dollar price tag.
6. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee: $50 / pound
What do you call a coffee bean grown 5,000 feet above sea level in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica? Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, of course. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee has a mild flavor and has slowly gained a reputation as one of the finest coffees in the world. The majority of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan, but for a mere $50 dollars a pound, any coffee connoisseur can sip on this brew.
5. Black Ivory Coffee: $50 / cup
Animal feces seem to be a popular commodity when it comes to producing fine joe. Another coffee made from the feces of animals is Black Ivory coffee. But, instead of Asian civets providing the poop, it’s elephants. Black Ivory coffee’s expensive price tag – 50 dollars for a cup – is due to the limited availability of coffee cherries, the appetite of the elephants, and the small amount of usable cherry seeds recovered from the elephant’s poop. Black Ivory coffee’s smooth, bitterless taste is achieved largely by the elephant’s stomach acids, which break down the proteins of the berry. When inside the stomach of an elephant, the flavor of the coffee cherry changes. The 20 elephants responsible for creating Black Ivory coffee reside on an elephant refuge in Northern Thailand.
4. Saint Helena Coffee: $79 / pound
Named after a small island in the South Atlantic Ocean, Saint Helena coffee is famed for it’s fragrant bouquet and light caramel flavor. Grown in small quantities on the island, Saint Helena coffee is wet processed and sun dried. Most good coffee producers sun dry their beans, but what normally is a 4 day process elsewhere, is a four month process on the island. Another unique quality of Saint Helena coffee is the type of fertilizer used to help grow the bean. Most coffee producers use livestock manure to fertilize bean crops, but Saint Helena beans are fertilized with the droppings (guano) of sea birds.
Napoleon Bonaparte is often credited for making the coffee of Saint Helena popular. Supposedly, he loved the coffee so much; he would spend hours tending to the plants. Want a taste of history? Plan on spending $79 dollars for a pound of coffee Napoleon Bonaparte tasted.
3. Kopi Luwak: $80 / cup
Kopi Luwak coffee, or civet coffee as it is also called, isn’t the name of a coffee bean. Kopi Luwak refers to the process coffee berries go through to become one of the most sought after and most expensive coffees in the world. Surprisingly, one of the most expensive coffees in the world is obtained from the poop of Asian palm civets. Yes, the eating and digestive habits of Asian palm civets produce Kopi Luwak.
See, civets love coffee berries and are, apparently, very selective about the berries they consume. After consumption, the berries (and the seeds of the berries) pass through the civet’s digestive tract. Since the seeds of the berries cannot be digested, the civets poop the seeds out almost completely intact. Once the feces are collected, the seeds are separated from the poop, washed and dried out. The civet’s finicky palette and stomach acids are what many believe help produce the unique flavor of the Kopi Luwak brew. A cup of Kopi Luwak coffee obtained from wild civets can cost as much as $80 dollars. Cream and sugar not included.
2. Hacienda La Esmeralda (Panama): $350 / pound
Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee comes from the Geisha bean, which is grown in the shade of guava plants on the hilltops of Panama. In just a few short years, the Geisha bean has become a favorite among coffee aficionados. Coffee lovers claim the bean’s rich, sweet taste and florally finish produces a brew unlike any other in the world.
A sweet tasting coffee with a florally finish doesn’t come cheap, however. At the 2013 Best of Panama, Hacienda La Esmeralda was sold for a staggering $350 dollars a pound. According to Starbucks, a one-pound bag of coffee produces roughly 64 5 oz. cups of coffee. So, a small cup of Hacienda La Esmeralda costs approximately $5.50 a cup. Oh, and that’s if the coffee is brewed at home. A small, upscale coffee shop in San Francisco sells cups of Hacienda La Esmeralda for around $7 dollars.
1. Finca El Injerto Coffee: $500 / pound
First place at the Guatemala Cup of Excellence five years non-consecutively; Finca El Injerto is one of the most rare (and smallest) beans in the world. Grown by the Aguirre family in Guatemala’s famed Huehuetenango region, El Injerto is put through a unique pulping process. To increase the quality of the bean, it is cleaned by a unique washing channel and de-pulped not once, but twice. In June 2012, one pound of unroasted El Injerto beans sold for $500.50, placing it among one of the most expensive coffees in the world.