Luxury beans in a class of their own
When the drink made from roasted coffee beans established itself in Europe during the 17th century and America during the 18th century, it stood as a symbol of the highest level of luxury. As a rarity with a high price, coffee was reserved for the rich and powerful. And even if coffee is affordable for almost everyone today, there are still some coffee specialties that are talked about as luxury beans. Today we are introducing three of the most exclusive types of coffee to you.
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Coffee is not just coffee
The variety among the modern delicacies also brings numerous coffee options from simple to luxurious in the cup. Coffee is not considered a food, but is counted as a luxury food. Real coffee always comes from the plant family of the same name, which today has around 124 species. For the enjoyable drink with the stimulating aroma, however, two types are primarily used: Coffea arabica, also known as Arabica coffee, and Coffea canephora, the robusta coffee.
As with good wine, high-quality coffee is also heavily influenced by external circumstances such as the nature of the soil, climate and growing conditions. In addition, there are the processing methods of the coffee beans such as the removal of the pulp, fermentation and roasting, which influence the individual aroma of a coffee. Thus, in the course of the history of coffee, not only a large variety of specialties, but also some rarities that are still among the most exclusive types of coffee. These include coffee from the island of St. Helena in Africa and the Caribbean Jamaica Blue Mountain and the probably most expensive type of coffee in the world, the Kopi Luwak, which also became famous as a cat’s coffee and separates the spirits of pleasure.
The most exclusive types of coffee from Africa: St. Helena coffee
With a volcanic origin, St. Helena is the only island in the Angola Basin in the South Atlantic, almost 1,860 km off the coast of Africa. It finds a firm place in history as the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte, who also made coffee on the Atlantic island famous. Due to the distance of the European trade goods, Napoleon is said to have occupied himself with regional products and learned to love high-quality coffee. The beans of the coffee variety Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica received praise in Napoleon’s diaries. Years later it came to Paris, then to other parts of Europe and the world. As early as 1839, the London coffee trading agency W. Bumie & Co. described St. Helena coffee as “the world’s best quality coffee”.
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St. Helena coffee is one of the most exclusive types of coffee and impresses with its balanced aroma. It is described as mild and yet rich, with a slight spiciness and chocolaty components bringing a sweetish nuance. The taste is rounded off with a light acidity that caresses the palate with fruity tendencies.
Only six coffee fincas look after the limited cultivation area on the approximately 15 km x 11 km wide island. As a result, the real St. Helena coffee will always remain a rare delicacy. The high price of the coffee beans from the island is not only explained by the small amount harvested, but also by the high quality cultivation. It is processed wet, sun-dried without fermentation and sorted by hand. From the planting to the harvest, the coffee is made by hand and without machines and the cultivation is carried out with the greatest care and according to biological criteria in favor of high quality.
Special coffee beans from the Caribbean: Jamaica Blue Mountain
When thinking of Caribbean delights, most people think of a relaxed attitude towards life with rhythmic music, sweet sugar and strong rum. But coffee is also one of the special specialties of the Caribbean. This explicitly includes the popular Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. On the high altitudes of the island of Jamaica, the plant of the Arabica coffee grown here grows slowly, but gently and with a select aroma due to the cool and humid climate. The special taste has made the Jamaica Blue Mountain well known even outside the circles of spoiled coffee connoisseurs. This makes it one of the most exclusive types of coffee.
Since the 18th century, coffee has been grown in small plantations in the Blue Mountain range, from which it is named, at 500 to 1,600 meters. The aroma is very mild and requires a comparably large amount of coffee powder for a cup of the luxurious hot beverage. Then it presents itself exquisitely with a full-bodied, fruity taste that brings a subtle nuttiness and a delicate yet present acidity.
The Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is harvested by hand and then processed while wet. It is then left to ferment between 12 and 24 hours before it is sorted by machine after sun drying.
Read our extensive guide about Jamaica Blue Mountain below:
The most expensive coffee in the world: Kopi Luwak
The Kopi Luwak is considered a selected delicacy with a dubious reputation. With the high demand for expensive and unconventional specialties, the peculiarity of humans also encouraged us to optimize production at the expense of animals and humans in favor of high earnings. Originally, the local coffee farmers on the Indonesian islands probably used today’s specialty. They recognized that the Asian palm civet excreted the seeds undamaged when they ate the coffee berries. During digestion, coffee beans receive a wet fermentation that provides an exceptional aroma of Kopi Luwak.
Our tip: When buying the Kopi Luwak delicacy coffee, be sure to look out for the “ wild collection ” label to set an example against mass animal husbandry.
The aroma of Kopi Luwak is described as particularly gentle, but intensely spicy. The taste offers caramel-like, delicately peppery and chocolaty tendencies with an earthy and slightly musty note that creates a long finish.
For the Kopi Luwak, the excrement of the Asian palm civet is dried. Then the mixture is carefully crushed into individual coffee beans and these are washed. The fermentation took place by lingering in the digestive tract. Therefore, the coffee beans can be dried directly. Today, sorting is done mechanically and electronically as well as by hand.
Read our extensive guide on Kopi Luwak here: Cat Coffee Kopi Luwak – Expensive and Extravagant
Our conclusion: the enjoyment of rarities comes at a high price
Today, there are the most exclusive types of coffee with the finest quality, which, however, increase in price due to low yields. However, if the coffee connoisseur considers that a pound of coffee in normal quality coffee capsules costs between 40 and 50 dollars, some luxury specialty coffees can be worthwhile for special moments in life.
- Growing conditions, climate and processing allow variable delicacies to arise
- low yields of good quality significantly increase the price
- Luxury can also be sustainable: hand-picking can increase the price fairly, (wild collection instead of cage)
- Look at low prices with skepticism: Expensive specialties are often sold as fakes