These are the most expensive coffees you can buy

Jelisa Castrodale

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A friend of mine celebrated his birthday the other day and, as usual, he went to Starbucks to see if he could create a more-expensive free birthday drink than he had the year before. He keeps track of these things – one of the reasons why we’re friends – and he sent a post-Bux group text to excitedly tell us that he’d spent almost $7. Like...that’s it?


In his defense, he only tries to engineer beverages that are actually drinkable and won’t make his entire circulatory system detonate itself. But the idea of creating the Most Expensive Starbucks Order Ever is a thing that people do; the current record-holder is a $148.99 “Super Venti Flat White” that contained more than 170 shots of espresso and required a custom mug big enough to hold almost two gallons (!!!) of ultra-caffeinated joe.

Still, $149 for two gallons of coffee is cheap compared to the most expensive coffees in the world. Here are five exotic beans that your tastebuds might appreciate more than your bank account does:

Esmeralda Geisha 601

If you’re not trying to build an off-menu monstrosity, the most expensive cup of coffee in the United States is a $55 cup for Esmeralda Geisha 601, a rare, ultra-pricey variety from Panama. Klatch Coffee, a coffee shop in Rancho Cucamonga, California, is the only roaster in the United States that managed to purchase these beans after they were entered in the annual “Best of Panama” competition. According to the Mercury News, the coffeehouse teamed up with eight other roasters in three other countries to buy 11 pounds of the coffee at a jaw-dropping price of $601 per pound. Klatch Coffee owner Mike Perry told the News that if he sold 250 cups at $55 each, the shop would break even.

Esmeralda Geisha 601 is from the Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee estate, which has a habit of producing – and selling – some of the most expensive coffees in the world. 

Black Ivory Coffee

Black Ivory Coffee describes itself as “The World’s Rarest Coffee. Naturally Refined by Elephants.” That second sentence is a gloriously euphemistic way of saying that elephants eat Thai Arabica coffee cherries, poop them out, and then people with the world’s most terrible job have to sift through those not-insubstantial piles to pick the cherries out again.

It’s an incredibly labor-intensive process and, unsurprisingly, it’s not super efficient: it can take 33 kilograms (72.8 pounds) of coffee cherries to produce one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of Black Ivory coffee. That’s probably why one pound – or fifteen 1.23 ounce packages – of that coffee sells for $1,000 on its website.

Kopi Luwak

These are the most expensive coffees you can buyPhoto courtesy of Photo via Getty Images/AKKHARAT JARUSILAWONG

While we’re talking about poop-related coffee, we have to mention Kopi Luwak. In this case, the coffee cherries are eaten, digested and expelled by the Asian palm civet, a nocturnal cat-like mammal that lives in Southeast Asia. Although authentic Kopi Luwak coffee can sell for anywhere between $100 and $500 per pound, the key word in that sentence is ‘authentic’ – and that’s increasingly hard to come by.

Some coffee insiders have estimated that up to 80% of coffee sold under the name Kopi Luwak is fake. “It hasn’t even been near a civet cat, much less through one,” Nordic Coffee Culture writes. But even the real deal has its issues, mainly that a lot of it is produced by civets that have been caught, caged and force-fed coffee beans in an attempt to make them poop more, faster.

Finca El Injerto

Finca El Injerto boasts of being the world’s first carbon neutral coffee-growing estate – before it even reminds everyone that it is also considered to be one of the five best coffees in the world. Jesus Aguirre Panama began growing coffee on this Guatemalan farm in 1900 and, more than 100 years later, it is still owned and operated by the third and fourth generations of Aguirres.

El Injerto currently grows four varieties: Bourbon, Pacamara, Maragogype and Geisha, and the first three have repeatedly won Guatemala’s “Cup of Excellence” award. It sells its green, unroasted coffee beans at auction every year; last June, an anonymous bidder paid $3,850 ($110 per pound) for 35 pounds of its Pantaleon Micro Mocca coffee. This year’s auction is scheduled for June 19, so you probably still have time to see if you can get your credit limit increased.

St. Helena

Every conversation about coffee seems to find its way back to Starbucks, and this one is no exception. The coffee giant has previously offered St. Helena coffee online and in its Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle; each 8.8 ounce bag of the ultra-limited Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica beans sold for $80, or about $145 per pound. St. Helena coffee comes from the south Atlantic island of the same name – and yes, it’s the same St. Helena where Napoleon was exiled from 1815 until his death six years later. “The only good thing about St. Helena is the coffee,” he reportedly grumbled. He might’ve been onto something there.


Jelisa Castrodale

About Jelisa Castrodale

Read more about Jelisa Castrodale here.


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