$55 for a cup of Joe? The story behind the most expensive cup of coffee in the world


If you think that $5 cup of Joe you normally get at Starbucks is costly, an ultra-rare strand of coffee made newly available in the United States is going to make everything else look like a serious bargain.

The coffee, called Esmeralda Geisha Cañas Verdes Natural, is being sold by a single vendor in America, Klatch Coffee, which has three locations in Southern California.

The coffee has made its way from a Panamanian hacienda to the States after reportedly breaking international records at auction over the summer, selling for $601 per pound (the previous record was $350 per pound, L.A. Mag reports).

“From berries to stone fruit to notes of jasmine, each sip is an adventure,” Klatch Coffee said on Facebook. It certainly will be one for the pocketbook.

And it’s not just the SoCal market. High-priced coffee may be the new trend: Eleven Madison Park in New York City is now selling a $24 cup of coffee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Money expert Clark Howard says he’s taken aback that people are forking over big bucks for something as simple to make as coffee.

“I’m just stunned,” he said. “I’m just shocked that people have money to burn like that. There’s no way that  you should be spending $12 or more on a cup of coffee.”

Klatch said that it was able to purchase 11 pounds of the prestigious beans and will roast them and turn the results into 250 eight-ounce cups of the good stuff, which equals a cool $13,750.

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How a Panamanian coffee became the most expensive in the world

The Esmeralda Geisha’s record-price made waves in the coffee world in July. Two companies — the Kew Specialty Coffee and Saza Coffee in Japan — bought 100 pounds of natural-processed Geisha after a five-hour, 270-bid auction at the Best of Panama Specialty Coffee auction, according to Bean Scene Mag.


The prized coffee bean comes from the award-winning coffee farm run by the family of Rudolph Peterson, a longtime banker who rose to become president of Bank of America. The Peterson family’s farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda, has been lauded many times over for producing some of the best coffee strands in the world — but it was one discovery in particular that catapulted their brand into the elite status.

“In 1996 the Petersons came together to purchase another farm in the area, Esmeralda Jaramillo,” it says on the farm’s website. “It was on a section of this farm that they discovered the famous Esmeralda Special, Geisha trees. Their discovery of this rare varietal was ground breaking in the coffee world.”

Klatch Coffee owner Mike Perry reportedly stumbled upon the coffee at a tasting in May, months before the high-priced java made its way to auction. The coffee got  94.1 points out of 100 at that blind tasting event, extending what some have dubbed a “Geisha gold rush.”

“The moment I tried Esmeralda Geisha 601, I knew it was something I wanted to share with coffee lovers in the U.S.A,” Klatch owner Mike Perry wrote in Klatch’s announcement, according to L.A. Mag. “A taste of this varietal provides a coffee experience unlike any other’its notes of peach, blackberry, jasmine and other fruit flavors are so bold, so flavorful, even an untrained a palate will find it remarkable.”

The Geisha variety of coffee has become a luxury brand of sorts, with incomparable critical acclaim since its ascendance less than 15 years ago. While critics say it has led to snobbery in the coffee world, producers say it has improved their bottom line.

Make no mistake: The Esmeralda Geisha 601 is not for the everyday consumer, but if plain ole tea can have a high-end market, why can’t a cup of Joe?

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