What's in $100 per pound coffee?

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After seeing Andrew Zimmern  from The Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods Show at our Slow Bar (click on Andrew’s picture to see the original clip), King 5 reporter Jesse Jones wanted to test whether a $100/lb Cup of Excellence coffee is worth the price. We spent a couple of hours with him to find out.

Results: about half the people could taste the difference, the other half liked our “regular” ($14.95/12oz) coffee from Colombia (Colombia Huila Monserrate). That’s not surprising since the Cup of Excellence coffee is now more than 1 year old — and our “regular” coffee is excellent, too!

Just to be clear, the reason coffees like this are so expensive is:

1) The CoE coffee is (in this case, was) great (it’s meticulously grown, picked, sorted, processed, packaged and exported with attention to detail and TLC).

2) Cup of Excellence is a nonprofit consortium that aims to raise the quality of all coffees, and all coffee farmers’ lives. It gives farmers an incentive to improve their farming practices and the quality of their produce, rather than simply focusing on yield. None of the folks in the supply chain other than the farmer made money on this coffee. (We, here at SCW, recovered less than 50% of what it cost us to buy the coffee, and that’s not counting our work in sourcing, roasting, bagging, and rebagging the coffee.)

3) The $100 price tag is meant to jolt us coffee drinkers out of our complacency with a system that cheats farmers and exploits the environment. If you are drinking coffee for $1 with free refills, you are likely physically hurting people and poisoning their land with every sip. Changing this imbalanced trade dynamic is something we at Seattle Coffee Works support 100%.

So, what was Arnulfo Leguizamo, the hardworking winner of last year’s Colombian coffee competition going to do with the prize money? He used his winnings to take his children to the seaside for the first time — a small luxury that we hope the whole family will savor as much as we savor their masterpiece. That’s something nice to swallow.

We are long sold out of the Colombian Cup of Excellence coffee that Andrew enjoyed (we had a very small remnant to test the hypothesis). But as the new crop comes in from South America and Asia, and soon again Central America and East Africa, we have some amazing new coffees that are well worth trying! Check out an overview of most of our assortment here.  Let’s drink some coffee!

P.S.: Here is Jesse’s piece on King 5 as it aired on the 5 o’clock news.