There are a handful of coffees in the elite group of most expensive coffee in the world. The reason they are so expensive is because of how rare they are. Just because coffee is really expensive it doesn’t also mean that it is the best tasting coffee in the world.
The rarer an item is the more expensive it becomes and the more desirable it is.
Think gold and diamonds. All the gold in the world would fit into 3 Olympic sized swimming pools and just that alone makes it a precious metal and expensive to buy.
Expensive coffee is a bit like caviar. Caviar is the eggs of one particular fish, the sturgeon.
Before I tried caviar I thought that it was going to taste incredible. It’s really expensive so it must taste amazing right?
I was totally off guard because it was quite literally the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted. It was like I had just taken a bite out of the sea.
It was the strongest most overpowering fishy taste I had ever experienced. It was not pleasant at all and I like fish!
My point is that just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean that it’s the best.
This is some of the most expensive coffee in the world:
Black Ivory Coffee
For the coffee lover that has everything, Black Ivory coffee has to be one of the most indulgent things you can ever try. Coming in at several thousand pounds per kg you don’t want to be messing up how you brew it because you are looking at about £40 per cup.
Why is it so expensive? Elephants eat it first of course, and only in Thailand. This is a very specialist process similar to one of the other most expensive coffees in the world, Kopi Luwak coffee but instead of cat poo, its the elephant poo that gets sifted through to find the coffee beans that have been through the elephants’ digestive system.
The elephants get fed coffee cherries (they like them) with their regular diet and once it comes out the other end the coffee cherries are removed and then roasted. The distinctive flavour is achieved by the exposure to the elephant’s insides.
One of the reasons they are so expensive is that most of the cherries are chewed and ruined by the elephants and only a small percentage get all the way through intact
Kopi Luwak Coffee
Not as expensive as the black ivory coffee but still costly enough to bring you out in a sweat this coffee costs several hundred pounds per kg if you buy it in smaller quantities but it gets a bit cheaper if you are prepared to buy it by the kg.
It’s made from removing raw coffee beans from the poo of the civet cat which adds a very unique flavour to a highly unusual coffee.
This article explains in detail why this is one of the most expensive coffee’s that money can buy:
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
This is the most mainstream of the most expensive coffee in the world and you may have already heard of it. It is literally grown in the blue mountains of Jamaica and is a fabulous tasting coffee.
One of the reasons it is so expensive is that compared to other coffee the amount grown each year is low and there is a lot of demand for it.
It also has pretty unique growing conditions with a cooler climate relative to the heat of Jamaica and because of where the coffee plants are its very labour intensive to pick the coffee cherries.
Quality control is very stringent as well with only the best coffee cherries making it through to the roasting process.
What is the world’s best coffee?
This is where you get some really good news. The world’s best coffee is the coffee that tastes best for you.
Jamaican blue mountain or Kopi Luwak or Black Ivory coffee may be amongst the most expensive coffees in the world but they almost certainly won’t taste better than coffee from a good roaster that costs £20-£30 per kg.
I like to think of coffee a bit like wine. I like wine but I’m no expert and my palette is unable to tell the difference between a good bottle of wine and a super expensive bottle wine that is supposed to be amazing.
I don’t drink that much wine (maybe 1 bottle a week and I save most of that up for the weekend) and so when I do drink it I want to drink something quality that I really enjoy.
So I started to experiment and found that £10-£15 per bottle was the sweet spot for me and got me a bottle that was full of flavour and complemented the meal I was enjoying it with.
I started at the £5 to £7 range but found that the vast majority of the wine at that price level had almost no flavour at all or it was sweet or just completely bland.
At the other end of the scale I went as high as £40 to £50 for a bottle just to see if for that price I could get something that blew my mind and was the best thing I’d ever had but it wasn’t.
When I went over £20 per bottle, I wasn’t benefitting from the higher price in the enjoyment I was getting from the wine. It was nice but I wasn’t able to tell the difference between a £15 bottle of wine and a £30 bottle of wine.
I was however totally able to tell the difference between a £5 bottle of wine and a £15 bottle wine and I now have a handful of countries and regions that have become my favourite in the £10 – £15 range and that’s what I now stick to.
This article is about expensive coffee, not wine but it’s a really good way to explain why the most expensive is probably not going to be the best coffee you have ever tasted.
Coffee is exactly the same principle as I have described above with how I got to the wine I enjoy the most at a good price.
You’ll almost certainly be able to tell the difference between really rubbish coffee and good coffee but may not be able to tell the difference between good coffee and really good coffee.
An example of this is instant coffee. It’s the cheapest type of coffee and it definitely has the least flavour.
Most people in the UK still drink instant coffee because it’s very convenient and its what they are used to.
But instant coffee is the equivalent of buying a £4 bottle of wine. It’s drinkable and it does the job but there is so much better out there to enjoy.
Find out exactly why instant coffee is not the best way to enjoy coffee in this article:
A good example from my perspective of a medium priced coffee that didn’t work for me is Red Brick coffee from square mile roasters.
This is a company owned by James Hoffman. James is a World Barista Champion, has written a very successful and really interesting and informative coffee book called the World Atlas Of Coffee.
He also has an excellent YouTube channel dedicated to coffee.
This guy is clearly a coffee expert and so you know that the coffee that he roasts in his own roastery is good stuff.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t like it. I wanted to like it because I loved his book and I really enjoy his videos and so I was more than happy to support him by buying his coffee and spreading the word but it just didn’t suit my palette.
It costs about £30 per kg which isn’t super expensive but it certainly isn’t cheap either.
My current favourite is the Spiller & Tait Signature Blend. It’s about half the price of Red Brick and to me it tastes better.
I’m certain that the Red Brick coffee from Square Mile Roasters is a good coffee and you may love it. Its produced by someone that knows everything there is to know about coffee and is literally a world champion (2007) at making great coffee.
My point is that coffee is a very personal thing. What works for others may not work for you and vice versa.
The best advice is to try lots of different coffees across as broad a price range as you can afford.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the best coffee in the world for you is a lot cheaper than the most expensive coffee in the world.
This article explains the best way to choose coffee that won’t break the bank:
How is the best coffee in the world roasted?
Coffee comes as either light, medium or dark roast. This literally refers to the amount of time that the raw coffee beans are heated (roasted) for and determines their colour and flavour.
The longer a bean is roasted for, the darker it becomes and the more the natural flavour of the coffee is removed from the bean.
A lot of coffee, especially the coffee used in the high street coffee chains, tends to be dark roasted.
Why would you want to roast a coffee bean so that its dark and a lot of the natural flavour is removed? The answer is pretty straightforward and it’s because the quality is not very good.
This is a generalisation and some dark roasts are ok but as a general rule, really dark roast coffees are not as good as medium or light roast coffees.
If you only roasted some of the dark roast coffee beans either lightly or medium then they would taste really bad and so they have to be roasted for longer to get the best out of them.
Better coffees are either medium or light roast. You can find out more in this article: