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Is any cup of coffee worth 12 bucks?

If you have the palate to pick up the combination of flavors, why not?

By Karen Datko May 13, 2010 5:04PM

Ah, the aroma, and then there's the taste: Hints of "apricot, pineapple, bergamot, kiwi and lime. The deeper tones are levels of chocolate, and the finish is super clean." But it's not wine.

That's the description from a connoisseur (he's also the guy who sells the beans) of the coffee made from the cherished Ethiopian Nekisse beans -- sold for $12 a cup at Café Grumpy, a New York City chain. One of those hilarious writers at The Gothamist said that “we detect notes of pretentious (potty word deleted -- you fill in the blank)."

What's bergamot? (As they say, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.) Regardless, would you pay $12 for a version of what many people consider a reliable delivery system for caffeine?


As for Café Grumpy, you can't pay for advertising like this. The $12 price has produced a "full-on geek show three-ring hoopla Barnum and freakin' Bailey's lion tamer extravaganza of press and publicity," said Sprudge, a website dedicated to drinking coffee.


 Post continues after video:



And it's not even a first.

  • Spro in Baltimore has been selling a $13 cup of Aida Grand Reserve, grown in El Salvador.
  • Café Grumpy has sold a $9 cup of Panama Hacienda Esmeralda, CNN reports.

"For twelve bux, I want coffee made from beans that have been eaten by a small animal and then cleaned out of the animal's dung," said one reader of The Stew, a food blog of the Chicago Tribune. That would be Kopi Luwak, which has been known to sell for $50 a cup.


We did a little research to get some insight on all the fuss. For instance, from Coffee Habitat we learned that there are "103 described species of Coffea in the world," although many will not appear vacuum sealed at the local IGA.


Also, you're supposed to drink the expensive stuff straight up. Adding creamer and sugar would be akin to mixing Talisker with soda.


What do consumers think?


Radio host Nick Cannon, not a coffee drinker, said the $12 brew tasted like "liquid sunflower seeds" in a blind taste test on his show. His three guests were impressed by its quality.


At the risk of sounding like a rube (it's probably a little late to be worrying about that), we think we'd agree with this customer: "It's good -- but I can't taste the difference. My palate is not at an advanced level for coffee -- a $2.50 cup is fine," Whitney Reuling told the New York Post. It’s why we don't buy $40 bottles of wine -- the value would be lost on us.


Would you pony up and give the $12 cup of coffee a try?


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