The new year is underway and everyone is drinking more coffee to get them through the day.
Here at Takeaway Packaging our eyes are wider than ever and, though still Winter, we’ve certainly got a spring in our step.
You see, we like to road-test all our products in order to provide first-hand knowledge and advice to our customers.
This means we know just what it’s like to drink coffee from a Double-Wall cup versus a Ripple Cup and what that’s like over a Compostable Cup.
We’ve been drinking a LOT.
We have drawn the line at tastings of different coffees in the same cup (mainly for health reasons), but it has got us thinking (mainly in bed, late at night, unable to sleep), where in the world does the very best coffee come from?
What follows is a low down of the best (and most expensive) coffees the world has to offer.
As a benchmark for price, Starbucks’ House Blend retails at £3.50/200g bag of beans.
Blue Mountain Coffee – Jamaica
We start our journey 5,000ft above sea level in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. These mountains are famed for their rare, small-batch coffee plantations.
The beans undergo a meticulous process of grading and sorting which ensures quality consistency.
As an indication of this coffee’s rarity, the annual yield of Blue Mountain beans is about 0.1% of the coffee produced in Columbia, and nearly 80% of the produce is exported to Japan.
Because the plantations are so high, they are exposed to an abundance of heavy rainfall which contributes to enhanced growth.
All this rain makes for a particularly pulpy, fleshy fruit (referred to as the cherry) which gives this coffee bean it’s famous balanced and mild flavour.
Best price we’ve found: £40 /200g
Kopi Luwak – Indonesia
Coffee snobs will have definitely been expecting this one, and possibly those with a passion for the, different.
Luwak coffee undergoes a very ‘special’ process in order to become the well-loved, revered and expensive coffee that it is.
The coffee fruit is eaten by wild, free-to-roam Asian palm civets. If you don’t know what a civet is, here’s a scientific description: it looks like a cross between a cat, a mongoose, a weasel and a racoon.
Once the civet has finished chomping on the bittersweet fruit, the fruit is fermented inside the civet’s stomach during digestion.
The next step, if you haven’t already guessed, is retrieving the leftover coffee bean… from the feces.
It’s this delicate and time consuming process that makes this coffee so unique. Once roasted the end result is a sweeter-tasting coffee having been altered by exposure to the chemicals which aid the civet’s digestion process.
Best price we’ve found: £64 /200g
(Watch out for less ethically farmed varieties where the civet is not wild or free-to-roam)
Hacienda La Esmeralda (Geisha) – Panama
When someone speaks of coffee plantations, Panama is seldom the country that gets a mention. Rather, Panamanian coffee seems somewhat an unusual concept altogether.
Far west in Panama, the region of Boquete is home to highland, jungle-esque plantations responsible for some of the most expensive coffee beans on record.
What’s more, this Geisha variety of bean has cleaned up at nearly every major global coffee tasting awards.
Not only does it taste great but production is truly epic. Picking the coffee fruit is no walk in the park, instead it is back-breaking and tedious work.
Coffee pickers have to fight steep highlands, slippery slopes, heat, fire ants and snakes!
All this for an hourly wage of just over £1/hr.
Similarly to Blue Mountain coffee, growth is promoted by frequent rain which is enjoyed by the coffee plants for nine months of the year.
When not raining, shade is sorely needed as protection from the sun and this is afforded to the coffee plants by guava trees.
The yield is small and the production slow. The result is a very expensive coffee, but every self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur should strive to try it.
Good luck getting ahold of these beans as most of what’s produced is sold through specialist auction houses.
Best price we’ve found: £70.40 /200g
And the winner is..
Black Ivory Coffee – Thailand
Much like Kopi Luwak, here we have another coffee that undergoes an extra special process.
This time, however, the coffee bean is ‘refined’ by the Thai elephant!
Chiang Saen, the northernmost region of Thailand, where the country intersects Myanmar and Laos, is where Black Ivory coffee is made.
Part of what makes this coffee so extremely expensive is that the producer uses the very Panamanian Geisha beans described above.
The elephants are looked after extremely well by their Mahouts and they live a good life.
When the beans are ingested by the elephants it can take anywhere between 15 to 70 hours for the coffee to be digested and excreted.
As with the civet, an enzymatic reaction takes place in the stomach of the elephant.
Digestive acid breaks down the bitterness-causing protein in the coffee fruit.
Less protein equals less bitterness.
In general, herbivores utilize a lot more fermentation to digest their food which is great because it helps to bring out the sugar of the coffee and impart the fruit of a cherry into the bean.
Best price we’ve found: £162 /200g (USD$1,100/kg)
That’s over 46 times more expensive than the Starbucks House Blend.
Bear in mind that all of these prices are a retail price for beans. Price per cup at a cafe would be on another level!
Happily, the animal-dung process for creating sippable delicacies isn’t exclusive to the coffee world.
Tea-drinkers can now rejoice in the knowledge that a they too can get in on this recycled-goodness.
There have been some exciting plans in China to produce organic green tea which has been consumed by a panda bears.
Watch this space.
So whether it’s gone in and come out, drink in or drink out, talk to us about the best way to serve your coffee with our wide range of takeaway coffee cups.
Our bespoke design service means that your takeaway coffees can look as weird and wonderful as the coffee inside!