Coffee that sells for $75 a cup is on its way to Ireland
US roastery bid $803/lb for rare Gesha beans – and a Dublin coffee roaster is bringing some to Ireland
Bean and gone: Klatch has already sold out of its Elida Geisha Natural coffee. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Would you pay $75 – that’s €67 – for a cup of coffee? (And, no, you don’t get to keep the cup for that price.)
You can weigh up the pros and cons of the question, among the pros being that the beans to make it are extremely rare, and that you’ll be one of very few coffee connoisseurs to have tasted it, and among the cons being... Well, is it just that, a giant con?
But don’t bother trying to justify it to yourself, because it’s too late: you can’t have one. What is thought to be among the most expensive cups of coffee in the world sold out almost as soon as it went on sale at Klatch Coffee in San Francisco on Saturday, with just 80 cups of the rare brew offered for sale.
The California roastery bought the Elida Geisha Natural beans, grown in Panama, at an online coffee auction last year, securing 10lb of the organic single-origin beans – 10 per cent of the total harvest – for $803, or €716, a pound. That’s €1,577 a kilo, compared with about €35 for a kilo of less rare but still top-notch beans from Irish craft roasters.
The company, which is based in Los Angeles, offered customers the chance to taste the coffee at a sold out in-store event – the Elida Experience – to mark the opening of the new San Francisco branch. It also made a tiny allocation of 18g whole-bean parcels available to purchase online – complete with brewing instructions from the US brewing champion Todd Goldsworthy.
According to Klatch, Geisha is “a rare variety of arabica coffee that came to Panama from a research lab in Costa Rica but has its origins in Ethiopia”. Its crop was grown on the Elida Estate, in Chiriquí province. (Geisha is also, and probably more properly, spelt Gesha, after the Ethiopian coffee-growing district.)
And what does it taste like, this $75-a-shot coffee? “It is known for its floral, tea-like and stone fruit flavours with jasmine, bergamot, sugar cane and stone fruit (peach or apricot) being common flavour notes,” Klatch notes.
And if you still want to taste a coffee made with this variety of bean, you’ll be able to buy one in Ireland this summer. Gary Grant, of Imbibe Coffee Roasters in Dublin, is in the process of importing some – and plans to sell it through their Coffee Club for “not much more per cup than you'd pay for a flat white”.
“We genuinely want people to be able to taste this at a price that’s affordable. We aren’t buying this coffee with a profit in mind
“We had coffee from Panama earlier this year which was one of the finest coffees I’ve tasted in many years. I think we’ll be the first Irish roaster to ever bring Panamanian Gesha to Ireland when it arrives, around July or August. I received confirmation of this from our man in Panama just yesterday.”
Grant explains why this coffee fetches such a premium, and why he thinks it is worth the high cost: “This scarcity obviously makes it difficult to source. Panama produces the best coffee on the planet, and price is due to many factors. It’s quite unique in taste, but, as always, scarcity plays a part in these things.”
According to Grant, the Klatch beans, although noteworthy, are not the most expensive. “The most expensive coffee ever sold was at auction by the producers Ninety Plus. It was a Panamanian Gesha that sold for $5,000 a kilo from the José Alfredo series in 2017.”
Colin Harmon of 3fe also has Gesha beans on the way to his Dublin roastery - but his are coming from Costa Rica rather than Panama. “There is a bit of a clamour for anybody that can grow Gesha at the moment, but it is not suitable to grow in a lot of places. It doesn't yield a huge amount, and it is susceptible to pests.”
Harmon thinks the Panama-grown Gesha may be over-hyped. “For us, I don't think there is good value in it. There are Ethiopian coffees that are comparable and considerably cheaper. But there is a market for it, and it is a well-oiled machine in Panama; producers there are very astute, and they do know how to produce great coffee.”