Are You Ready for a $15 Cup of Coffee

pricy coffeeThis story has been all over the press the past few days

A Bay Area based coffee company has introduced a new type of limited-harvest variety of bean that is selling for $15 per cup and a whopping $140 per pound.

Founded by partners Booke McDonnell and Helen Russell in 1995 when the pair started roasting coffee in a Marin County garage over 20 years ago, Equator Coffees and Teas is a boutique roasting company that also runs three cafés in Mill Valley and San Francisco.

Their pricey Finca Sophia bean grown at Equator’s high-altitude Panamanian farm of the same name is harvested from exotic Gesha plants that only produce a limited amount of coffee. With green unroasted beans from the fragile plant selling for as much as $170 per pound on the worldwide roasters market, perhaps the high price-tag isn’t so surprising.

It took eight years for these plants to produce a first crop of less than 200 pounds. So of course they will be expensive.

As you can imagine the “proletarian snobs” (an appropriate term coined by Blake Gray as far as I know) are out in force in comments threads or on the TV lamenting the decline of Civilization when people are willing to spend $15 for a cup of coffee. These are the same people that claim the pricey bottle of Margaux is no better than the bottom shelf $10 wine at the grocery store.

The question I have is, if you like coffee and can afford it, why wouldn’t you spend $15 for a genuinely stellar cup.

If you love basketball, don’t you want to watch Stephen Curry play? If you love cars, don’t you want to drive a Lamborghini? And no one criticizes you for these aspirations. But when it comes to taste why is there something pretentious about wanting the best?

Proletarian snobs are a strange sort—they take pride in their bad taste and look down their nose at anyone who doesn’t share it.  I don’t understand the psychology; my guess is childhood trauma but I’ll leave it to the Freudians to figure out.

I have not had the opportunity to try Finca Sophia beans so I can’t speak to their quality. As with wine, price is not always a reliable indicator of quality. But I’ll put them on my increasingly long list of things to do next time I’m in the Bay Area.

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