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The Most Expensive Coffees in the World: Rare Treats for Your Tastebuds!

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

Our review process | Our team

It’s not every day that you drink one of the most expensive coffees in the world. In fact, some rare coffee lots are so limited that only a handful of people get to enjoy them.

It’s not every day that you drink one of the most expensive coffees in the world. In fact, some rare coffee lots are so limited that only a handful of people get to enjoy them.

Whenever I get my hands on one of these coffees I know I’m in for a treat! If I’m making an expensive coffee at home, I’ll only use my finest pour-over setup. That way, I can have complete control over the brew.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Read on to discover some of the most expensive coffees in the world and what makes them so dang special!

Overview: What Drives the Price of Coffee?

Before I talk about the most expensive coffees in the world, I need to lay some groundwork. In other words, what drives the price of coffee?

This is a huge topic; truly, there are entire books about the price of coffee. Fortunately, I already wrote an article about why coffee is expensive. Be sure to check that out if you want more than just an overview.

But for a bird’s-eye view, here goes:

Coffee is an agricultural product that is traded on the global market. So, lots of things affect the price of coffee. Labor costs, processing costs and shipping costs are three of the most basic factors that contribute to the price of coffee.

There’s also the factor of climate change to consider. Incidentally, climate change is making it harder to grow coffee, as increased droughts and heat waves alter the conditions in coffee growing regions. More pests and lower yields are often effects of these conditions.

Coffee farmers often have no choice but to invest in new infrastructure or agricultural techniques in order to navigate the pitfalls of climate change. These costs are inevitability passed down to the consumer.

Why Are Some Coffees More Expensive?

Well, if all coffees are influenced by the same market trends, why are some coffees more expensive than others?

Washed Coffee Process

There’s a lot of nuance here, but the simple answer comes down to entry-level economics: supply and demand.

Sometimes, a particular coffee – let’s say the Geisha variety, which I’ll talk more about later – captures the adoration of the specialty market. Importers and roasters go bonkers to track down and buy the most special Geisha lot they can find. Two big factors influence the selling price of that lot: its quality and its limited supply.

Producing a high-quality lot requires a lot of work! First off, farmers must hire skilled coffee-pickers. Furthermore, detail-oriented processing methods require time, money and attention.

These high-quality lots yield higher prices per pound of green coffee, in order to fairly compensate and reward farmers for their skill and hard work.

On a related note, since it’s hard to produce premium coffee, there’s less of it out there. Knowing that, producers and importers can charge more for these rare coffees.

What’s the Rarest Coffee in the World?

There really is no singular “rarest” coffee in the world. I’d argue that any company that promotes a coffee as the rarest coffee in the world is likely relying on marketing gimmicks to sell their coffee.

That said, there are some coffees that are so unique, whether due to their origin, farm or processing methods, that they are available in very limited quantities. One of these rare coffees is wild Kopi Luwak coffee.

I’ll explain what Kopi Luwak coffee is in a second. But generally, it is coffee that is naturally fermented in the gastro-intestinal tracts of Indonesian civet cats. True Kopi Luwak coffee is difficult to find because it is a wild-processed coffee, involving no captive animals or force feeding.

8 of the Most Expensive Coffees

Okay, now that I’ve gotten us through a brief overview of coffee pricing and rare coffees, let’s explore! Here are eight of the most expensive coffees in the world.

Hawaiian Kona Peaberry

Fair Trade Kona Coffee

At this point, Hawaiian Kona coffee is pretty well-known.

Kona coffee gets its name from the Kona coffee belt on the Big Island of Hawaii, where it’s grown. This is a mountainous region nestled between two active volcanoes. The rugged geography requires all of the coffee cherries to be picked by hand, which raises production and labor costs.

Since the Hawaiian Kona coffee belt is also pretty small, a limited supply drives prices up.

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the delicious tasting notes of Hawaiian Kona coffee! Kona coffee is known to have flavors of cedar, berry and hazelnut. For these tasting notes alone, I’d be willing to spend a pretty penny for a cup for Hawaiian Kona coffee.

But for a cup of peaberry Kona coffee? Oh boy!

Peaberries occur when a coffee cherry produces only one coffee bean (or seed) instead of the usual pair of seeds. Peaberries tend to be smaller, rounder and – some would say – better tasting than normal coffee beans.

A 10-ounce (280-gram) bag of roasted peaberry Hawaiian Kona coffee can cost as much as $45! Still, Kona fans will say that this price is well worth it.

Jamaican Blue Mountain

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Aspen Barrels

Next up on the list is the renowned Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Coffee from Jamaica is already hard to come by, since it’s a small island nation with limited specialty market access. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is particularly special because it’s grown in the gorgeous Blue Mountains, on the eastern side of Jamaica.

The rugged terrain of the Blue Mountains makes harvesting ripe coffee cherries labor-intensive, which drives up prices. Limited growing conditions also make this gourmet coffee quite rare; certified Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is grown between 3,000 and 5,500 feet (910 and 1,700 meters).

Speaking of being certified, coffee producers that want to use the Jamaican Blue Mountain trademark need to pay for the privilege. Plus, all of their coffee needs to meet the standards of Jamaica’s coffee industry board, which often means that the beans are sorted by hand several times.

All of this means that producing true Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee can be quite costly. Paired with a classic flavor profile of sugar, cocoa, citrus and brown spices, it’s no wonder that this is an expensive coffee! After roasting, one pound (450 grams) of this coffee can cost as much as $65.

Kopi Luwak

Kopi Luwak Boycotter Cafe Civette

In the case of Kopi Luwak coffee, it’s not the origin but the processing method that creates the allure of this rare coffee!

Some people give this coffee the name “civet cat poop coffee.”

Kopi Luwak coffee is unique because it involves the excrement of Asian palm civets. These cute animals are found across Southeast Asia, including on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java.

Civet cats eat ripe coffee cherries as part of their natural diet. However, they can’t digest coffee beans, so they get pooped out. In the meantime, the digestive tract of civet cats ferment the coffee beans naturally.

So, what does that mean for the flavor of Kopi Luwak coffee? The typical profile is pretty mild, with grassy and spicy notes.

I’d argue that for this kind of bland flavor profile, spending up to $500 for 1 pound (450 grams) on this coffee just isn’t worth it. But allow me to give you even more reason to avoid Kopi Luwak coffee.

Animal abuse is a big part of most civet cat coffee production. True Kopi Luwak coffee requires the coffee to be collected by hand from wild civet cats. However, this is often not the case.

Yemen Coffee

Yemen Coffee Regions

Historically, Yemen is an ancient coffee growing region. However, for several reasons, Yemen is no longer a big coffee producer in today’s market. As a result, specialty lots are highly sought after by roasters and importers.

This popularity begs the question: what’s so special about Yemeni coffee?

Traditionally, all coffee in Yemen is dry processed. A dry process, when done well, yields a full-bodied and fruity cup of joe. Paired with the characteristic tea-like, dried fruit and spicy flavors of Yemeni coffee, it’s no wonder this is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.

A single cup of the most high quality Yemeni coffee can cost as much as $16. As I mentioned, this is due to the coffee’s limited availability and supreme quality. What’s more, a challenging terrain calls for higher labor costs.

As always, fair compensation is a key ingredient in an ethical supply chain. I celebrate the high prices of exquisitely produced coffee beans!

Koji Coffee

Koji coffee is a new and experimental processing method. I’ll break it down for you.

Koji is a fungus or mold that has been utilized in Japan for centuries as a fermentation agent. For example, Koji is used in sake and miso production.

When Koji is involved in coffee fermentation, it breaks down starches in coffee cherries and green coffee, enhancing the sweetness and flavors of the coffee beans in unexpected ways.

Incidentally, Koji processed coffee often has a heavy body and umami notes such as toasted sesame seeds. That said, the flavor profile ultimately depends on the variety and origin of the coffee itself.

This unique processing method was developed on the Bayter family’s farm, El Vergel, in Colombia. US coffee professional Christopher Feran worked with these producers to develop and test the Koji method.

Koji coffee is expensive in part because it’s such a new processing method. The high cost of Koji cultures contributes to this price, too. Onyx Coffee Lab is selling a 10-ounce (280-gram) bag of roasted Koji processed coffee from El Vergel for $60.

Still, if you have the chance to try this rare coffee, I recommend it!

Panama Geisha

Geisha Coffee 19grams All

Oh, Geisha coffee. Drinking a cup of this expensive coffee feels like one long, pleasant sigh. When I talk about roasters going wild to get their hands on a particular variety, Geisha coffee is what I’m referring to.

Though this variety has its roots in Ethiopia, it became the sweetheart of specialty coffee on a single farm in Panama. In fact, Hacienda La Esmeralda is almost synonymous with the origin of Panama Geisha coffee.

A cup of the highest quality Geisha will offer notes of black tea and flowers, with a delicate sweetness. This coffee is gentle and balanced on the palate.

That said, you’ll want to take a deep breath before I tell you how much a Geisha coffee could cost.

At the 2023 Best of Panama auction, one washed lot of Geisha coffee scored a whopping 96.5 points and sold for $10,005 per kilogram. That’s $4,547 per pound of green coffee.

It’s clear that the Geisha variety is one of the most expensive coffees around. Of course, not all of it will cost this much. So, if you ever come across a cup of Geisha coffee when visiting your favorite roaster, I’d urge you to try it.

Eugenioides

This is a fun one! Eugenioides coffee is the only coffee on this list that isn’t part of the Arabica species. In fact, Coffea eugenioides is its very own species!

In 2023, Onyx Coffee Lab bought one of their Eugenioides lots for $63.19 per pound. While this isn’t the most expensive coffee on my list, it is quite a rare find!

Eugenioides production is very limited worldwide. Colombia’s Finca Inmaculada is the primary cultivation center of this unique bean. So, roasters often need a longstanding direct trade relationship with this producer in order to get their hands on this coffee.

On the consumer side of things, you’ll have to act quickly if you want to buy a bag of Eugenioides coffee.

But why is this coffee so popular? For one thing, people can’t avoid mooning over limited-edition products. Plus, since this coffee is an entirely different species from Arabica or Robusta coffees, cups of Eugenioides have a very unexpected flavor profile. Tasting notes can include toasted marshmallow or sugary milk.

Next time one of the few lucky Eugenioides roasters has some coffee on hand, I may just have to shell out to try this rare coffee.

Ninety Plus Coffee

This isn’t a coffee variety or processing method per se, but I thought Ninety Plus coffee deserved at least an honorable mention.

Ninety Plus is a coffee company based in Panama. As their name suggests, they grow and roast coffee that scores 90 points or more on the SCA coffee grading scale. A lot of the coffee they grow is Geisha, but not all of it.

If you’re familiar with the coffee grading scale, you know that coffees that score above 90 are already quite rare. Add to this that gourmet 90+ coffee is the only coffee that this company grows – well, you won’t be surprised to hear that a single cup of Ninety Plus coffee can cost as much as $250!

Part of the allure of Ninety Plus coffee is its limited availability. It’s a small farm and they don’t sell their rare coffees to just anyone. In fact, you have to be well connected to get green coffee from this company. 

What’s more, Ninety Plus has impeccable growing conditions for their coffee. All of it is shade grown in forests, encouraging a balanced ecosystem. Talk about sustainable agriculture!

Final Thoughts

Brasilien Kaffeefarm 2022 Kaffeekirschen am Trocknen

I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of some of the most expensive coffees in the world.

I could have mentioned some other coffees on this list. For example, there’s Black Ivory Coffee, otherwise known as elephant dung coffee. Instead, I wanted to focus on the hard work of less-sensationalized coffee producers.

Coffee producers deserve fair and enthusiastic compensation for their skill and hard work. Let these rare coffees offer a reminder: coffee is a luxury product that we cannot take for granted.

Have you tried any of these expensive coffees? Do they live up to the hype? Let’s discuss in the comments section below!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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