93 aesthetic coffee pourover

Why is specialty coffee so expensive?

 We all love a good cup of coffee, don’t we? A perfectly made cup, not only makes our mornings but also gives us the fuel we need to conquer our day. 

Sometimes, it’s a clean cup at a cozy little neighborhood cafe. Other times, it’s a sugary confection enjoyed in a busy café with friends. However you drink your cup of joy, the culture around coffee has changed drastically over the years, and specialty brews have refined our taste.


specialty coffee pourover by 93

However, as a coffee consumer and lover, haven’t we always wondered why certain kinds are more expensive? What is so special about them that makes them cost this much? 

Before getting all of these questions answered let us first understand what exactly is “specialty coffee”.

Specialty coffee is the coffee that is made with care and attention to detail, using high-quality beans and methods that result in a superior flavour. It is coffee that adds value to each step of the coffee journey from farm to cup. To produce 1kg of coffee beans, it takes farmers to harvest more than 1500 cherries manually and each one contains two seeds. But it's not just that, there’s a special category known as “single - origin coffee’’ which can costs easily upto Rs 2000 to Rs 50000 per kg. And when you go deep down into how it gets harvested and processed to reach to your cup, you will know the answers to the above questions.

How single- origin coffee is produced and harvested?

red coffee cherry, ripe at the farm

Single origin coffee means coffee that is sourced from a single estate, one farm or one mill. The most interesting and important thing about single origin coffee that differs them from a regular commercial coffee is the traceability, the fact that you know exactly where your coffee is from and that it’s a specific coffee, not a blend. 

Coffee grows differently depending on altitude, climate, soil and sun. It’s a very slow process, it takes time to grow and mature, the longer time it takes to mature, the better the quality it gives. Depending on the altitudes, the coffee gives different flavour notes that range from fruity and floral to chocolaty and spicy. Coffee brewed from beans exclusively from one region has a very distinct taste and flavour profile, this ensures the uniqueness and the biggest reason why it can cost so much. 

Achieving that quality and uniqueness is not at all easy, the uneven terrains make it hard for machines to work so everything from picking the cherries to cleaning, drying and some sorting is done manually. 

Let’s understand the bean to cup process

93- the coffee journey from farm to cup  coffee farmer, sorting cherries, 93 coffee

  • The cherries are picked by the farmers in multiple rounds, one at a time and the ripeness is the key to the good coffee, so the mature red ones are picked and the green ones are left for few more days or weeks to ripe. The picking of cherries has to be done very carefully so that no unripe ones gets mixed in the batch, as it could affect the very taste of the coffee. 
  • The cherries are sorted before processing it further because if left with the defected ones, it would negatively impact the flavour and thus lower down the price of the coffee. The key to maintaining the quality is how fast the processing starts after sorting, so sorting is done every evening.
  •  Each processing method has a different impact on the taste but the end goal is same: separating the seeds from the fruit. They go through various processes to get the beans out of the cherries and then they are inspected once again to make sure only dense ones go further and the light ones are removed. The beans are then dried and sold as microlots or as single origins.
  •  But it doesn’t ends here, the roasting requires a lot of expertise, getting the best flavours out requires carefully roasting, the factors like the storage, temperature, pressure, duration, light roast, dark roast, all of these have the ultimate impact on the flavour and it needs to be done evenly.
  • After this, coffees are carefully packed and sent off to be brewed by baristas who have worked hard and practiced their coffee brewing skills to deliver the perfect cup to you.

In conclusion, getting high level of quality requires a lot of investment and labour at every step of production chain. Despite the prices a roasted bag of single-origin coffee costs, the farmers who handpick each coffee cherry still struggle at times to earn profits in seasons where harvest is low, produce is damaged due to heavy rain, fauna and forest fires. 

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