Last Updated on June 18, 2021
Everybody has their vices. Often, people will pay big money on cars, collector cards for certain sports, alcohol, and cigarettes. It should come as no surprise then, that with it being one of the most popular drinks in the world, that coffee can be expensive, depending on the blend and where it comes from. I think that many people see buying expensive coffee as “silly”, and that is for 2 main reasons:
- They believe that the coffee they get in the supermarket is good enough and you shouldn’t have to pay more for the same thing.
- They fail to understand the complexities and the work that goes in to producing the best and rarest coffees.
What many people do not know, is that there are thousands of varieties and blends of coffee, some of them rare and robust. This article looks not at the $5 instant coffee or even the “fancy” $10 coffee beans that you treat yourself to sometimes. Instead it looks at rare, unique, and flavourful coffee beans, often grown in remote or specific regions and sold by the pound. The list will offer a mix of slightly more affordable coffees, right up to the best and most expensive in the world! Keep in mind that if you are serious about coffee and are only learning where to start, there are a few items that you will need!
A good coffee machine
Having one of these will set you back, but will do all of the work for you, simply add in your beans, and let the machine grind them and filter them for you. There are a heap of articles online evidencing the best machines to buy!
Now if you don’t feel like paying a lot of money for a full-on machine, you can buy your own coffee bean grinder. Simply add in your beans and let the grinder work its magic! However you will need to filter the coffee! You can buy filter paper for this, or you can buy a coffee filtering machine.
Filter Coffee Machine
Often overlooked, a good coffee filter machine will not break your bank account but will definitely enable you to enjoy a quality cup of coffee without the hassle. Simply add your beans into the grinding mill, select your grinding preference, the number of cups you would like, and that’s it, the machine does the rest. In my humble view, the filter machine is the best middle of the road option and will allow you to enjoy the intense, robust, and unique flavours of the coffee beans below in a matter of minutes.
1. Hawaiian Kona
Setting you back about $35-40 per pound of coffee, the Kona style of coffee gets its name from the specific region in Hawaii in which it is grown. It is one of two Hawaiian coffees on the list and is also the cheapest of the most expensive coffees too. The beauty of the Kona region lies with its ideal coffee bean growing conditions. It is mainly sunny but does rain a little during the day on most days, giving the beans ideal conditions to grow and get water.
The land itself is also mineral rich with it being close to beautiful Hawaiian volcanoes. The main downside is the rarity of the beans themselves, in fact, in 90% of the bags of Kona coffee, the beans are often combined with cheaper beans in order to create both a more affordable blend, and a blend that can be produced on a larger scale.
About 10% of the Kona bags produces are 100% authentic Kona beans, they will have the “100% Kona Coffee” label on them but are quite hard to find and can be more expensive. Either way, this is an affordable, unique, and mineral rich blend that is sure to keep any coffee lover (and their wallets) happy.
2. Jamaican Blue
Coming in hot at about $50 per pound of beans is the Jamaican Blue blend. Like the Kona beans, the Jamaican Blue beans get both their name and their price from the region in which they are grown. Produced at 5,000 feet in the Jamaican Blue Mountains, you will be hard pressed (coffee pun) to find a more remote region where beans are grown (there are one or two that are more remote, you’ll hear about them soon).
The region itself gets a lot of rainfall and with it being in the mountains, benefits from well fertilised and mineral-rich soil. It is popular as well because of its appealing taste portfolio, it is not too bitter and produces no particularly harsh aftertaste. It has even found particular prominence in Asia and now Japan is actually the biggest importer of their blend.
If you are a fan of a milder tasting coffee and are looking to try one of the rarest and most sought-after beans in the world, then the Jamaican Blue blend is most certainly worth a try.
And just like that, we are back to Hawaii. It is produced in Kualapu’u in Maui County, which is seen as one of the best regions for coffee growing in the US because of its rainfall and its soil. Similarly, those who produce the coffee are seen as the finest coffee producers in the US, with years of experience and skill, it means that not only are the beans grown in the ideal conditions, they are produced by the best at their jobs too. The beans themselves cost about $51-55 per pound, and like every coffee on this list, are rare.
4. St. Helena
Coming in at a solid $80 per pound of coffee, is the St. Helena blend. The coffee is grown in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean about 2000km off of the Western African coast (yes, I am serious). St. Helena itself is a small, tropical, and volcanic island that produces a taste that can be found nowhere else. Its price tag is a mixture of two things, its unique and robust flavour, and its exporting difficulty.
Of course, while the remote location makes it rare and exciting, it also means it will cost more to export the beans due to shipping costs. However, it has become a popular coffee in all parts of the world from coffee enthusiasts alike, purely based on its flavour and its exciting novelty.
5. Kopi Luwak
If you have ever drank Kopi Luwak coffee before, or if you like it, I may be about to turn you off of it for good. It is made in a slightly different manner than other coffees on the list. The Indonesian growers feed the coffee cherries to small mammals named Asian Palm Civets and wait for them to poo the beans out and wash them. That is how the beans are grown!
During their digestion process, the animals ferment the coffee cherries and the enzymes released during fermentation are what give the beans their flavour. The unique growing method, combined with the regions in which it is farmed (the bellies of an animal) and the completely unique flavour that comes as a result, can go a long way to justifying the $150-300 price tag that the beans command per pound.
6. Hacienda La Esmeralda
We are really into the business end of the list now, the second most expensive coffee is Hacienda La Esmeralda, and is grown in Panama, on the side of a mountain named Mount Baru. It is grown under guava trees and its flavour and incredibly high $350 per pound price tag come as a result of excellent farming methods and a commitment to quality from its workers.
Reviews and articles online often comment on the incredible notes of citrus and passion fruit that accompany the coffee and that is all down to its growing conditions, it truly is incredible how the surrounding areas and its contents can make a difference to the flavour. (Apart from Kopi Luwak of course, I don’t think that coffee tastes like the insides of an animal), The blend itself has won awards for its robust and authentic flavour that many say can not be matched.
The price of the coffee itself can vary depending on the crop in which it was produced, some beans can set you back $150 per pound, others far more, so if you do wish to try award winning coffee, then this will set you back, while it is an expensive blend of coffee, it does not come close to the next and final coffee on this list.
7. Black Ivory
By far the most expensive coffee in the world, Black Ivory coffee is grown in Northern Thailand, and can be bought for the small fee of $1,000-1,500 per pound. There are a few reasons behind why it is so expensive, and I am afraid to inform you that one of them does involve poo again.
The beans are made by feeding elephants the coffee cherries and formed through the digestion process of the elephant. Similar to the Kopi Luwak brand, the faeces are then investigated for beans and cleaned. The process of digestion releases enzymes and allows the beans to ferment, while also breaking down any proteins in the bean that may cause a bitter taste. Another big reason behind the price tag is the rarity of the beans.
Often, the cherries can be over-chewed, lost in the excretion process or fragmented, meaning that not all of the beans will make the cut. However, if you can put the growing process to one side and have the money to try the coffee out, it would be a once in a lifetime experience.