Would you pay $55 for a single cup of coffee?
Starting November 2017, you could get your taste on the Esmeralda Geisha 601 rare coffee which sold for $601 a pound earlier this summer by The coffee estate Hacienda La Esmeralda. The same farm broke the previous sale record of $350 per pound.
There has been great debate over the role of Geisha (or Gesha) in the coffee industry. Those critical of it complain that it dominates coffee competitions and is too highly priced for the average consumer.
Yet others celebrate it not just for its distinctive and high-quality cup profile, but also for the way it presents coffee as a luxury product: one that deserves higher prices.
For them, Geisha is leading the way in changing buyers’ attitudes.
“It’s just a phenomenal variety,” said Klatch Coffee Owner Mike Perry who was one of the international judges at the competition. “On the final day (of judging), we were doing a tasting of all these Geishas and there was just one that was on the table that was so powerful and so explosive, the fruit flavors were just wild.”
The Rancho Cucamonga-based coffeehouse will begin pouring the rare coffee Nov. 18, holding a series of ticketed events.
Perry said the coffee has notes of peach, blackberry, jasmine and other bold fruit flavors.
“This is not just another coffee,” he said. “You’re going to taste the flavors, you’re going to taste the difference, and you’re going to think we spiked it with some flavoring but we did not. It’s just the processing — it’s that Geisha varietal that adds so much to it.”
The coffee, known as Esmeralda Geisha Cañas Verdes Natural, began with more than 1,000 pounds of red ripe coffee cherries that were handpicked from the hills of Volcan Baru, Panama.
Those coffee cherries were then dried out for eight days, Perry said.
“The cherries reached an ideal humidity level of 10.5 percent before undergoing rigorous processing that culled the batch down to 150 pounds,” according to a news release from Klatch.
Only 100 pounds of the coffee remained after the competition, Perry said. Klatch is the only roaster in the United States that was able to secure the beans from a coffee broker.
The $601 was for the grain, unroasted coffee. Perry had to buy special insurance and have the coffee shipped via airfreight. When all is said and done, Perry said, the price tag for the single serving is just to break even.
By opting to sell it by the cup, Perry estimates 250 eight-ounce servings can be poured. There will also be a limited amount of 15-gram packages of pre-roasted beans that can be purchased online.
“It’s really the best way to let as many people experience what a wonderful coffee it is,” he said.
Perry said he has already received numerous inquiries from coffee enthusiasts across the country about the tasting events.
Among those interested is La Verne resident Dan Walsh, a longtime Klatch Coffee customer who frequents the San Dimas location. Walsh is no coffee novice either, for the past 30 years he has worked in the coffee distribution industry.
As the west coast regional vice president of Vistar, a distribution company, Walsh purchases everything from instant coffee to specialty coffee for businesses.
Walsh said he first heard about the rare cup of coffee from Perry soon after he had acquired it.
“I tried to work a free cup, but he wouldn’t give it to me,” Walsh joked over the phone Tuesday morning.
Walsh and Perry have known each other for about 17 years, for as long as Walsh been a Klatch fan.
“I have discussions with Mike about where he goes around the world to get the top one percent of coffee. So how do you not want to try and taste it when it’s been rated so high?” Walsh stated.
The most Walsh said he’s ever paid for a cup of coffee was $25.
“I just want to see what everyone is so excited about, and, Mike is usually not wrong about these things,” Walsh added.
Details are still being finalized for the ticketed events.
Klatch first opened a shop in San Dimas, where they roasted their specialty coffee until moving to their Upland Roastery in 2007. It later expanded to Rancho Cucamonga, and in 2010 Klatch opened a third coffeehouse in Ontario. Klatch also licensed two locations, one at LAX, and another in South Korea.
In 2015, the family-owned business moved its headquarters to Rancho Cucamonga.