The Rarest Coffee in the World: Sip on Luxury!

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.

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At what point does coffee transcend mere beverage status and become a legend in its own right? I've often wondered about this question when thinking about the rarest coffee beans in the world.

At what point does coffee transcend mere beverage status and become a legend in its own right? I’ve often wondered about this question when thinking about the rarest coffee beans in the world.

What makes a coffee “rare” varies. From exotic growing regions to downright delicious flavors, rare coffees have unique qualities that distinguish them from the ordinary bean.

Today, I’m taking a deeper look at these exceptional coffees. I’ll explore everything from their origins and flavors to how producers grow and process them. In short, I’ll be exploring everything that elevates the status of these premium coffee beans.

Overview: What Makes a Coffee Rare?

Several factors contribute to a coffee’s rarity. However, flavor and origin rule the roost.

Most rare coffee beans come from far-flung locations, and are almost always Fair Trade or direct trade. They’re mostly single-origin Arabicas, too. In short, these beans aren’t easy to come by.

Then comes quality. We’re talking about the best coffee beans here. These gems are hand-selected and processed by knowledgeable and experienced growers.

White Coffee Direct Trade Mode

Also, they’re limited in production and undergo unique processing, fermentation and aging methods. This is what makes them rare and valuable.

Next, we can’t overlook the flavor. Rare coffees have unique flavor characteristics, unlike any regular whole bean or ground coffee on the market. Most undergo some sort of fermentation and aging during processing, which enhances their flavor further.

But here’s the kicker: these exceptional coffees don’t come cheap. You might have to fork out some serious cash to get your hands on a bag. But for rare coffee lovers, it’s worth every penny.

Is the Rarest Coffee Always High Quality?

Because a coffee ranks as the rarest or most expensive coffee, it doesn’t mean it’s got the goods when it comes to quality and flavor. It’s like fishing for lobster – you might reel in a whopper, but its size won’t necessarily determine the taste.

Rarity isn’t the only factor influencing the quality and flavor of these single-origin coffees.

Sure, some elusive coffee bean from a far-flung corner of the globe might be hard to come by. But if it isn’t treated right from farm to cup, you could end up with an absolute dud.

At the end of the day, it’s all about how these beans are grown, harvested, processed, roasted and brewed.

The 10 Rarest Coffee Types

I had to scratch my head when coming up with the ten rarest coffee beans in the coffee world. With so many top-notch beans in the Coffee Belt, how do you choose?

Nevertheless, here are my top ten rare coffees. I’ve based this list on origin, flavor, availability and price. I trust you’ll agree with my choices!

So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Degass Coffee Beans Without Airscape Plunger

Thai Black Ivory

First on our list is Thai Black Ivory coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world. To harvest this coffee, farmers wait for Asian elephants to munch on first-class coffee cherries straight from the source. These cherries pass through the elephants’ digestive system (yes, you read that right!). There, they undergo a sort of natural fermentation.

Once these beans exit, they’re hand-picked from the elephants’ dung, sanitized and washed before drying in the sun. This unlocks a flavor profile like no other.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: elephant poop coffee? Really? But trust me, this stuff is the real deal.

What’s more, it doesn’t have any of the animal welfare concerns involved with Kopi Luwak and is supposedly chock-full of antioxidants. Thai farmers have ethically reaped the benefits by allowing elephants to munch on their coffee trees. A win-win situation all around!

What does this coffee taste like? In short, Black Ivory coffee is super smooth and fruity. This brew also boasts pronounced notes of chocolate, spice, malt and cherry. It truly is some of the rarest coffee on the planet for good reason, and at $1,000 per pound, it more than deserves its price tag.

Indonesian Wild Kopi Luwak

Katzenkaffee boykottieren

Kopi Luwak coffee is the most well-known rare coffee, and that’s because it has a backstory to match. It always makes the tip ten on rarest coffee beans lists.

The story begins in the lush jungles of Indonesia. Here, palm civet cats snack on the ripest coffee cherries. Then, they pass them out as viable “fermented” green coffee beans.

Who discovered this curious process and when did it begin? Well, you see, in colonial times, Dutch colonists banned Indonesian farmers from harvesting coffee. Consequently, civet cat poop coffee harvesting proved a way out for native farmers. On brewing, these coffee beans yield a smooth, complex coffee. Additionally, the coffee boasts pronounced earthy, caramel and chocolate notes.

Once these beans exit the cat’s digestive system, farmers sanitize, wash and dry them. These rare coffees command a formidable price in the market. You’ve got roasters selling them for as much as $400 per pound in these coffee streets!

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous farmers took this as an opportunity to cage civet cats and force-feed them for coffee processing. This, like foie gras farming, has triggered animal welfare concerns, giving this rare coffee a bad name.

If you do buy Kopi Luwak, make sure it’s wild-sourced. Still, this origin is almost impossible to verify. So, with a heavy heart, I advise avoiding this coffee altogether.

Panama Geisha

Panamanian Geisha or Gesha coffee makes this list of the rarest coffee worldwide due to its exquisite flavor. These coffee beans, with genetic links to Ethiopian Arabicas, boast a sweet, tropical fruit flavor. They also have an intense floral aroma, delicate acidity and delicious white wine, peach and bergamot notes. The perfect morning coffee!

The famed Hacienda La Esmeralda estate has mastered growing this Arabica varietal. It demands just the right conditions to thrive, making it tricky to grow. As a result, this coffee put Hacienda La Esmeralda on the map, winning it the Best of Panama competition in 2004.

If you wanna try some of this Geisha coffee, prepare to part with close to $400 per pound! I know, I know, this price sounds high. But, believe me, it’s worth it. Once you taste a cup of authentic Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha (Gesha, if you insist on paying homage to this coffee’s Ethiopian origins), the price more than makes sense.

Jamaican Blue Mountain

West Indies Cover

I can’t talk about legendary brews without mentioning Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. This stuff isn’t your run-of-the-mill brew but a whole different ball game!

The origins of this coffee lie on the island of Martinique, where the French established plantations in the 18th century. Incidentally, the British Governor of Jamaica got some plants from Martinique and used them to establish his own coffee plantations.

What was genius about all this is that the unique terroir of the Jamaican Blue Mountains made for the perfect setting. Coffee grown here turns out smooth and mild with a rich caramel sweetness. It also boasts a refined acidity and almost no bitterness.

But it isn’t just the limited terroir that makes Blue Mountain beans unique. Cherries here take twice as long to ripen as other coffee plants, concentrating the flavor. Then, they’re hand-picked, with producers selecting only the ripest and juiciest.

Additionally, harvested beans undergo precision processing before getting to market. At this stage, the strict supervision of the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica ensures 100 percent authenticity and quality.

If you want to try Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans, expect to pay upwards of $65 per pound. Honestly, given the strict POD designation, you’d be getting a good deal!

Hawaiian Kona

Hawaiian Kona coffee is some of the rarest coffee on the planet, and the only American coffee to make this list. It grows in the Kona region, surrounding the volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai.

These exotic coffees enjoy a unique location-specific volcanic terroir that yields a smooth and balanced cup profile. In addition, they boast a high but refined acidity with pronounced caramel, milk chocolate and nutty notes. It truly is some of the world’s best coffee.

Consequently, many coffee roasters add Hawaiian Kona to their signature blends. By doing so, they hope to leverage its full-bodied and balanced flavor characteristics.

So, if you want to buy Kona coffee, make sure you pick the genuine article and not a coffee blend. Look for coffee bags with “100% Kona” and “Kona#1” labels. Better still, why not opt for roasters selling Kona Peaberry? This specialty coffee makes up only 5 percent of Hawaiian Kona harvests yearly, making it exceptionally rare.

Averaging $60 per pound, Kona coffee is genuinely worth the price. This, given its higher labor, processing and shipping demands compared to coffee in other countries. Incidentally, it makes an excellent medium roast brew!

Guatemalan El Injerto Bourbon

Coffee Plantation in Guatemala

El Injerto Bourbon coffee is one of the rarest coffees in the Coffee Belt and thrives in the heart of Guatemala. This Central American coffee is famous for its smooth and well-balanced flavor profile. It also boasts prominent notes of chocolate, nuts and caramel.

Washed Guatemalan coffee has a high status in the coffee industry, anyway. It consistently achieves high cup scores. These coffees are SHG (Strictly High Grown). As a result, they showcase an exceptional body and refined acidity.

But Guatemalan coffee beans from Finca El Injerto exceed industry expectations. In addition, they’re certified carbon-neutral, winning this coffee estate many accolades for its sustainable approach.

In 2021, Arabica Bourbon beans from El Injerto won the “Best Coffee of Guatemala” award, which is no small achievement! What’s more, El Injerto Peaberry has won the Cup of Excellence competition a whopping eight times! As you can see, at $500 per pound, this rare coffee’s price tag is absolutely well-deserved.

Peruvian Coati

Peruvian Andean Coati is another rare brew that leverages the power of natural fermentation.

The native Peruvian coati, raccoon-like mammals, munch on only ripe coffee cherries. They then ferment them in their stomachs, much like with Kopi Luwak and Black Ivory coffees.

Next, farmers collect, sanitize and process the discarded fermented coffee beans. The result is one of the rarest coffee beans available, boasting unique flavor notes of chocolate, tropical fruit and nuts.

Notably, these coffees yield a cup of joe with refined acidity and almost no bitterness. Consisting of Caturra, Typica and Bourbon varietals, these beans count as some of Peru’s best coffee. At $750 per pound, they even rival Black Ivory and Kopi Luwak in quality and taste.

St. Helena Bourbon

Brasilien Kaffeefarm 2022 Kaffeebauer Beim Arbeiten

St. Helena coffee is unique on our list as it comes from a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, right between South America and Africa. Interestingly, Emperor Napoleon loved to drink St. Helena coffee during his exile there in the early 1800s. Go figure, as he only loved the best!

This premium brew has a story as unique as its flavor. It traces its origin to Yemen, from whence it came in 1733 courtesy of the British East India Company. From there, St. Helena’s temperate climate and fertile volcanic terroir provided the ideal setting for this Bourbon coffee to thrive. The result is a clean and elegant coffee with distinct caramel, berry, citrus and stone fruit notes.

Because its location is so remote, getting St. Helena coffee to market incurs high transportation and shipping costs. Nevertheless, coffee lovers will pay up to $400 per pound to enjoy one sip of this luxury brew. It really is that good!

Indian Monkey Coffee

Like Black Ivory and Kopi Luwak, Indian Monkey Coffee relies on animals to “process” mostly Arabica cherries into a sort of fermented coffee bean. Common in Chikmagalur, India, and Taiwan, coffee here is “shade-grown.” This means it thrives near dense forests, which serve as the Rhesus monkeys’ natural habitat.

This is some of the rarest coffee on the planet, as harvests depend on when the monkeys, decide to snack. Once these primates have gnawed on the flesh of ripe cherries, farmers collect the leftover beans for processing. Since these monkeys favor only the juiciest cherries, the fermented coffee beans that result produce an exceptional brew.

Crucially, this particular coffee bean sports a unique gray instead of green color. Like Indian Monsoon Malabar, this fermented coffee has a fuller body. However, its flavor is vastly different. Indian Monkey Coffee boasts an exceptional sweetness and balanced acidity. This contrasts with Monsoon Malabar’s earthy and smoky flavor.

Liberica Coffee

Scoop of green coffee

Originating in West Africa, Liberica coffee now grows primarily in Southeast Asia. It is prominent in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos.

Notably, this coffee is the only non-Arabica species to make it to our top ten list of rarest coffee beans on the planet. It’s rare because it makes up only 1.5 percent of global coffee production.

Despite being hardier, Liberica coffee plants grow taller and larger. This makes the beans challenging to harvest. Similarly, although this coffee is higher in caffeine, it boasts a distinctive smoky and woody flavor. As a result, it isn’t that well-known but has earned the endearing nickname “liquid tobacco” among caffeine junkies.

In recent years, the Philippines has prioritized Liberica production. In 2023, exports peaked at 30,000 metric tons thanks to a patriotic GenZ-driven fourth-wave coffee movement. Despite this specialty coffee drive, you’ll still find Liberica in cheaper instant coffee blends. In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

Bonus Rare Coffee: Sierra Leone Highland Coffee (Coffea Stenophylla)

Arabica coffees dominate this list of the rarest coffee in the world for good reason. They’re almost always of higher quality and have unique flavors.

However, Sierra Leone Highland Coffee or Coffea stenophylla, is challenging this perspective. These plants, some of the rarest coffee trees in the Belt, thrive in harsh tropical conditions. Crucially, they also resist coffee diseases and pests that typically affect Arabica. The main downside is that this coffee plant has low yields.

Organic Coffee tree blossom

Still, like its rare Kenyan counterpart Coffea eugenioides, this African species is making a comeback. In recent years, 6,600-11,000 pounds (3,000-5,000 kilograms) have reached world markets from Guinea and Sierra Leone.

On brewing, this rare coffee has a mild and clean flavor with astringent green tea notes. Interestingly, coffee professionals equate its flavor profile to that of quality Arabica beans. A curious, climate-friendly coffee indeed, and one worth trying!

Final Thoughts on the World’s Rarest Coffees

So, what’s the bottom line on the rarest coffee in the world? I can summarize it in two, no, three words: flavor, quality and origin.

In the rare coffee game, price isn’t an issue for either roasters or consumers. It’s all about the caffeine buzz and getting a superior taste experience from the best coffee beans.

So, the next time you go on a coffee run, why not try rare coffee beans from the furthest corners of the Belt? It may cost you a pretty penny, but at least you’ll get a chance to expand your coffee palate, broaden your horizons and embrace the thrill of the hunt!

Have you tried any of the rarest coffee in the world? Please share your experiences with the Coffeeness community!

Rarest Coffee in the World FAQ

Black Ivory Coffee is the rarest coffee bean in the world. Also known as elephant dung coffee it is rare and expensive due to its remote origins and intricate processing techniques.

Wild Kopi Luwak coffee or civet cat poop coffee, is expensive due to its labor-intensive processing techniques and exquisite flavor.

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is the most prestigious on the globe. The Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica oversees its quality and authenticity. As a result, it protects this coffee’s strict POD-designation, making it like no other.

These exotic coffees are super expensive for various reasons. Producers harvest limited quantities, which pass through elephant-led natural fermentation. These beans also undergo years-long processing and aging techniques, which further sky-rockets their price.

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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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