Every seasoned chef understands the importance of using fresh, seasonal ingredients when preparing a dish, and coffee is no exception. However, unlike purchasing a delicately wrapped gourmet cheese or opening an expensive bottle of wine, the art of brewing a delicious cup of coffee involves a series of steps.
Matthew Lewin, Barista Champion and Coffee Consultant with more than ten years of experience in the specialty coffee industry, explains, “With coffee, it needs to come from the farm in beautifully produced condition, it needs to be roasted beautifully, it needs to be placed in a bag and aged, and then you’ve got the barista who needs to grind it.”
According to Lewin, the key to a fantastic brew is deciding which company to put your faith in. “Make sure they care about it, that it’s a fresh crop, that it’s delicious, and make friends with the barista so they can guide you,” he advises.
The coffee expert compares a grinder to a chef’s knife, saying, “You don’t need the best espresso machine or associated tools, but you do need an incredible grinder.” Lewin argues that quantities, duration, and temperature are additional success determinants.
Frequently, a coffee with a score of 95 will have the greatest clarity, sweetness, texture, flavor, and florality. – Matt Lewin
Even though the market is currently flooded with specialty coffee, those with the most refined palates can distinguish between a coffee with 90 points and one with 85 points.
“Often, a 95-point coffee will have the most extraordinary clarity, sweetness, texture, flavor, and floral aroma,” he says. It will simply increase the volume on everything.
As with many things in life, Google can be a useful resource when exploring the world of high-end coffee, but you should also consult a local barista for guidance.
Perhaps the greatest threat to the industry is posed by the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, which have led to a 40 percent price increase.
Lewin states, “Brazil produces the most coffee in the world.” There have been frosts, droughts, and a variety of other climate-related impacts, all of which have decreased production.
Those who can overlook the fact that some exclusive coffees have been naturally processed by animals will discover that luxury coffee supports remote communities and raises industry standards.
Kopi Luwak, US$1,300 per kilogram Expensive coffee
If you have not yet tried this coffee, you should be aware that wild-sourced and farmed Kopi Luwak have distinct price tags and ethical implications. Civets, the animals responsible for Kopi Luwak, are caged and force-fed coffee cherries in order to maximize profit.
It is believed that the enzymatic process the coffee beans undergo as they travel through the civet’s digestive tract contributes to their mellow flavor and complex aroma. In addition, this tropical cat has a knack for selecting only the finest cherries, resulting in a superior brew. Kopi Luwak is primarily produced on the islands of Java, Bali, and Sumatra in Indonesia.
Black Ivory, US$2,500 per kilogram
Black Ivory Coffee is produced in a remote province in northern Thailand using minimal machinery and the natural digestion of elephants.
The vast majority of high-altitude Arabica cherries are lost during the selection process. Approximately 33 kilograms of raw cherries yield one kilogram of finished product, which is tended to by elephant caretakers and compensated high school students after the cherries have been digested by elephants. The supply of Black Ivory is determined by two factors: their appetite and the availability of coffee cherries.
This rare brew is primarily sold to five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants, so sipping a cup is a chance to support rural communities while enjoying chocolate and spice notes without bitterness. However, the flavor is ultimately determined by the elephants’ digestive enzymes.
Saint Helena, US$494 per kilogram
Napoleon was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, which has one of the purest environments on earth. Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica is harvested, processed, and roasted in this region to bring out its distinctive qualities, which are revered by coffee enthusiasts. Saint Helena coffee, which is wet-processed with local spring water, has hints of black cherry and chocolate that hint at its Yemeni origins. This highly sought-after coffee was introduced by Starbucks in 2016 with a price tag of $80 for 250 grams.
Leslie Wolford, a Starbucks Coffee Quality Specialist, explains, “It is a delicate cup with floral aromas that transition into citrus fruit and caramel notes.”