How much we pay for a coffee has long been a talking point amongst commuters, brunchers and post-lunch-slump-suffering workers.
McDonald’s is currently selling their double espresso for just 99p. Chains are constantly trying to get the cost of their most popular brews to below what their rivals are selling them for. Meanwhile, a coffee shop in Mayfair has just sold what is claimed to be “the UK’s most expensive coffee”.
At £50, the Ethiopian “Cup of Excellence” Queens Coffee sold by artisan coffee shop Queens Of Mayfair was purchased at auction by the company’s roaster, Difference Coffee Co. (who also exclusively roast for Harrods). They were one of only two roasters invited to the auction by the farm, so it was pretty sacred.
They bought 450g of beans from the Ethiopian producer, Nigussie Gemeda Mude.
Queens only opened in August 2020 but has quickly grown into one of the top places to grab some brunch in London’s poshest district. Sisters Grace and Victoria who own the cafe are vowing to continue selling the best coffee in the capital via Difference.
The expensive coffee was served to customers in a crystal wine glass and ground by hand, before being brewed in a V-shaped filter with fine paper to allow the coffee to come through slowly drip by drip. This is seen as one of the best methods for speciality coffee.
The owners described it as “a rare and highly sought after coffee to offer true connoisseurs” which highlighted the high standards which the cafe is aiming for. Only 15 servings were available, which equated to one large cup or two small ones, so coffee connoisseurs were being urged to get down there on a first-come, first-served basis.
Victoria tells us:
“The coffee has been very well received with customers finding it to be a very emotional experience, and have spoken of its delicate flavours and likeness to fine wine or even a tea”
Why Was It So Expensive?
The sale of the coffee understandably caught a lot of attention from the media and coffee lovers alike. But Queens were not just selling it at this price for the sake of it.
The Fair Trade Cup of Excellence programme is described as the most prestigious competition and auction for high-quality coffees. Each cup is heavily scrutinised, with thousands of different beans tested. The winning coffees are sold in global online auctions for a premium price, with the vast majority of auction proceeds going to the farmers.
Queens actually paid 150x what farmers would normally get for their beans, but they then sold it at just 20x the cost of a regular cup. The rare beans would retail for approximately £2,000 per kilogram, and were bought in June before being roasted this month.
The beans have an industry grading of 94 out of 95, meaning they are Grade 1 and amongst some of the best quality beans to have ever been sold in the world.
The farmer who produced the Ethiopian “Cup of Excellence” Queens Coffee beans received the full auction price, the coffee shop said.
It is a perfect example of how us paying that bit more for goods can improve the livelihoods of those who produce them. A huge part of Third Wave coffee is the transparency throughout the production line – we know where the coffee is from, how it was grown, who by and how much they were paid.
While speciality coffee is becoming more common because of our wish to have more pronounced flavour profiles, more transparency and a better life for the growers, your local coffee shop is unlikely to ramp up their prices to a similar bracket – but it is definitely worth thinking about how the amount you pay should be helping those out way back at the start of the production chain, too.