Have you ever drunk a cup of coffee in your local shop that cost you $8? If so, was it really worth that $8?
I know that it’s easy to scoff at people who pay so much for a cup of coffee. I myself am fairly frugal, and when I visit cafes, it’s pretty rate that I pay more than $3 for a cup. But, it’s more and more common to see cups of coffee with a $5 or even $8 or higher price tag.
So, what’s this all about? Are there legitimate reasons for the price of these cups of coffee, or are we simply being extorted?
These are the questions we will try to answer in this blog article.
Before we progress, I’ll give you a generalized answer. There are good reasons why some of your local coffee shops as well as roaster will price coffee at a price of $7 for a mug or indeed around $40 for a bag. These prices shouldn’t spark outrage, and I am going to share with you the reason for this.
Let’s take an in-depth look at why some coffees are hellishly expensive.
The Global Scale of Coffee
Before we can even try to decide on what is a normal or a high price or coffee, there’s something that we should remember. Our cost expectations aren’t universal and objective.
For the majority of people in the developed world, we see coffee as a luxury that falls into the affordable category. We all love coffee, and make it a special part of our day, this luxury not costing much to make at all.
However, from the perspective of the coffee farmer, coffee is far more than an energizer and an enjoyable moment. For the farmer, it’s a means to feed, clothes, and put a roof over his head and his family.
When we reduce coffee to a commodity or a manufactured good, it’s very easy to forget that there are actually hundreds of millions of folk that depend on the coffee industry for their livelihood. And, once this is forgotten or ignored, we risk extorting the farmers by expecting lower prices.
This is exactly how the coffee industry has been working for many centuries. In fact, in the 18th and early 19th century, things got so bad that the coffee farmers were really little more than slaves. Thankfully, we have said goodbye to this era, and now we have higher coffee prices.
Over the decades I have heard my elders complaining about the escalating price of coffee. On an economical level however, that’s not a bad thing.
The hike in coffee prices is helping liberate coffee farmers from systematic and economic oppression.
We are paying a little bit more in order to help raise the quality of life for the farmers, by helping pay them a wage that is sustainable. We are paying a higher price for our coffee so that the environment will still be suitable for coffee growth. We are seeing a rise in what we pay so that coffee farmers for were historically disadvantaged can enjoy an improved economic playing field.
In short, by paying more for coffee we are making the world a better place.
We need to be careful to not elevate ourselves to what would be known as the level of saviors to people far away. That really would be a poor way to think about alleviation and poverty. Instead, we should consider ourselves to be partners who are joined together in a bid to make the world a healthier, more prosperous, and generally better place.
A coffee that is expensive doesn’t look the same to everyone, but the experts in coffee-related poverty are in agreement that if we are to have a better and more prosperous world for the coffee farmers and producers, we need to be willing to pay a bit more.
Check out the very most expensive coffees in the world. There are most definitely expensive, but there are valid reasons for the price tags. Let’s see why.
RARE VARIETIES OF COFFEE
Have you heard of “geisha” coffee, also known as geisha?
These coffees are rare and are the product of a prized coffee plant called geisha. Varieties of coffee work just like wine; the genetic makeup of the plant as well as the place within the family tree both have a huge impact on the flavor of the finished product.
The geisha plant doesn’t produce a large yield and it is not hardy. However, in terms of flavor, it scores very high. Coffees from the geisha plant have a tea-like body a lot of the time, as well as unique floral flavors and unrivaled crispy acidity.
Originally from Ethiopia, nowadays the most celebrated of these coffees comes from Panama, from the place called Hacienda La Esmeralda.
I bet you can’t guess how much they can cost?
Geisha coffee can cost you $601 per pound.
That’s correct. In 2017, on the 19th of July, the Esmeralda farm for Geisha coffee production in Cañas Verdes Natural broke a world record. A record for the most expensive green coffee beans that has ever been sold, and one that in 2019 has now been updated to over $2000 per pound of coffee.
However, the majority of geishas will only cost you between 40 and 80 dollars a bag, beating the majority of coffees in terms of how expensive they are. Geishas are exquisite, fascinating, and rare, and they are well worth trying.
There are some more unique and rare varieties that produce awesome coffee, but the most popular of them has to be geishas.
ORIGINS OF EXOTIC COFFEE
Have you ever tasted coffee that has previously been eaten by cats or elephants and has been extracted from their waste?
Yes, it does exist, and it’s a thing!
There are many places that are involved in the production of exotic coffees that undergo some very strange processing stages. Such coffees meet a lot of demand but are usually in short supply. If you are at knowledgeable about economics, you will know that high demand and small supply can only equal one thing; high prices.
Black Ivory Coffee
Black Ivory is a type of coffee that originated in Thailand and is coffee that has been consumed and defecated by the elephants. After defecation, the coffee is harvested from the waste and then is cleaned, processed, and finally roasted. It really is kind of gross.
There is only one exclusive seller of this coffee, and that is the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation that is found in Thailand. Profits are used to ensure the health of rescued elephants is looked after. These elephants are interestingly the same ones that love to eat coffee cherries.
The flavor of this coffee is bold and earthy, coupled with a heavy body and a mellow and unique acidity. If you wish to support the elephants, it is quite costly, as a pound of the roasted coffee will set you back in excess of $1,000 per pound.
Kopi Luwak Coffee
This coffee also comes from Southeast Asia, this time being produced after having been previously consumed by civet cats. In the same way that elephant eats the coffee cherries, the local civet cats do, their digestive system altering the acidity of the coffee. Once again, the result is a coffee that is unique and odd.
However, it should be noted that a lot of this type of coffee comes from the force-feeding of cats that are held in captivity. The whole process is extremely inhumane. If you are still keen on tasting this coffee, you really should try and find a producer that supports natural feeding patterns and the free-roaming of the civet cats.
The flavor of the coffee produced is very unique, with a medium body, a unique acidity, and a mellow sweetness. Bags from free-roam cats are available for a price starting at around $300 per pound.
These are just two types of coffee that are exotic and have appeal due to their rarity. You won’t find them in your average store. Other coffees from exotic locations like Myanmar and Cuba are however still likely to cost you a lot more.
So, now, let’s talk about coffee shops and the high prices you find in them.
THE COFFEE SHOP AND ITS DILEMMA
Coffee shops often run at a low profit margin with high-effort operations in place. When they have a higher priced coffee, they don’t often sell it for a large profit, only marking it up a little. A geisha coffee that they sell for $8 will have a lower profit margin than their regular coffees that they sell for around $3.
Let’s now consider that you order a manually brewed coffee that costs $5. You are paying for the lights, electric bill, gear, taxes, and the barista’s wage.
So, let’s work on the assumption that the average barista takes 4 minutes to make your coffee, a pour-over coffee. If his wage is $10 per hour and the business is paying 50% in taxes, just the labor time for making your coffee in 4 minutes works out at $1.
You need to also consider what is known as the opportunity cost. The same barman could easily make 2 or maybe even 3 cups of drip coffee in the four minutes it took him to make your pour-over cup.
I used to laugh and scoff at the prices that coffee shops charged, that was until I managed one myself. Now I understand that to keep a business from going bankrupt, it is necessary to charge these high amounts for coffees.
So, to ensure that the price doesn’t seem so high, always remember that it’s not just the coffee that you are paying for. You are paying for the chill music, the chairs, the service, the smiles, the aromas, and the all-round experience.
So, they are not trying to make you penniless. What they are doing is creating an atmosphere that you are also paying for, one that will ensure you really enjoy your coffee and the entire experience.