What Makes Organic Coffee?

Coffee used to grow in the wild. It was discovered in East Africa a thousand years ago. From its discovery in Ethiopia coffee was cultivated and domesticated as it spread across the world. The coffee that people discovered a thousand years ago was healthy organic coffee.

Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

What makes organic coffee organic is the fact that it is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Originally organic coffee was also shade grown coffee. Coffee grows naturally under a forest canopy.

Natural coffee strains grow best in partial or total shade. In fact, many plants dry out and die if planted in full sun. Thus coffee has traditionally been grown under a canopy of trees. This method of planting on hillsides helps prevent erosion as is still seen in regions of Colombia, Panama, and other parts of the world where coffee is grown on steep slopes. However, new sun tolerant coffee strains were introduced over the last two generations. These plants thrive in full sunlight and are capable of producing up to three times as many coffee beans as traditional coffee plants in a shaded environment. Unfortunately, in order to boost production rates growers use synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides to protect the monoculture of coffee that they plant. By taking coffee out of its more normal habitat growers subject it to the same risks as other field crops and orchards in which individual infective pests can enter and destroy a crop.

How Do You Know It Is Organic?

Today in order to know if coffee is organic you look for evidence of organic coffee certification on the package.

Organic coffee differs from regular coffee in several aspects. The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land. Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport.

Certifications to look for start with USDA which is the US Department of Agriculture. Others include UTZ, Rainforest Alliance and the Smithsonian´s Bird Friendly Coffee.

An issue for organic coffee growers is that the sustainable agriculture that is needed to produce organic coffee is more time consuming and can be more costly than the assembly line approach used for regular coffee. Coffee growers need to be able to price their product accordingly. Institutions like UTZ and the Rain Forest Alliance help in this regard by finding buyers for organic coffee.

Reduce Your Risk of Stroke and Heart Failure by Drinking Coffee

The evidence that coffee has positive health benefits keeps on coming. Most recently a paper presented at an American Heart Association meeting demonstrates a reduced risk of stroke and heart failure in coffee drinkers.

Drinking coffee may be associated with a decreased risk of developing heart failure or having stroke, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

Researchers used machine learning to analyze data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which includes information about what people eat and their cardiovascular health. They found that drinking coffee was associated with decreased risk of developing heart failure by 7 percent and stroke by 8 percent with every additional cup of coffee consumed per week compared with non-coffee drinkers.

What is striking about this study is that the benefit of drinking coffee is measured in cups of coffee a week instead of per day. That means that the one cup a day coffee drinker will have a substantial risk reduction whereas previously the most benefit was typically with folks who drink four or six cups a day.

This is an observational study which means that scientists found a relationship between the amount of coffee that folks drink and a reduced incidence of both stroke and heart failure. The study does not indicate a cause. However, other research may be helpful in that regard. We wrote that the benefits of drinking coffee improve with age.

The researchers say that for every two cups of coffee a person drinks per day they receive the benefit of a 22% lower risk of death in the next ten years. However, when the data is parsed out by age groups it turns out that for those over the age of 45 experienced at 30% reduction in ten year mortality. And when the older people were subtracted from the study there was little change in predicted mortality for the younger members of the study.

The researchers in this study believe that the antioxidants in coffee which reduce inflammation are more beneficial in older persons for whom inflammatory conditions are more dangerous. Heart failure and stroke are primarily diseases of the elderly. Thus the benefit of coffee in prolonging life is proportionally greater in older people. This argument may well explain how you can reduce your risk of stroke and heart failure by drinking coffee.

Regular or Organic?

The study cited above does not distinguish between regular coffee and healthy organic coffee. However, we know that regular coffee can contain as many as 130 unwanted substances such as residues of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. These things are not good for your health when ingested. Although coffee in general lets you live longer the effect is more pronounced in older people. We can also assume that if and when someone is able to look at organic versus regular coffee the greater benefit and lesser risk will come down on the side of organic!

Coffee Varieties That Defeat Leaf Rust

There is a fungus that infests coffee plants and threatens the world’s supply of Arabica coffee. It is coffee leaf rust in English and La Roja to Colombian coffee growers. This fungus is also the reason that the English converted from coffee drinkers to tea drinkers in the 19th century. In that era the main coffee producing regions of the world were Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. But the fungus wiped out those crops and planters switched to tea switching the British coffee drinker to a tea drinker at the same time. Arabica, the high quality coffee you get in a coffee house is also what you get in healthy organic coffee. It is also the coffee that is infested by leaf rust.

Robusta is the more sturdy variety, more rich in caffeine, a better producer and the main source of caffeine for soft drinks. Robusta is not bothered by leaf rust so one might think that coffee growers would cross breed Robusta and Arabica to produce a good tasting leaf rust resistant coffee. Unfortunately, Robusta and Arabica do not cross breed in controlled situations. And luckily back where leaf rust emerged in the East Indies there is a Robusta and Arabica cross bred strain that happened naturally on the island of Timor.

It took a century for coffee leaf rust to make its way from the East Indies to Africa and then finally to South America where it started in Brazil. That was in the 1960s. At that time Colombia which is a 100% Arabica producer saw a bleak future if they could not find a coffee variety that resisted leaf rust before the fungus reached their side of the continent. At the Cenecafe research facility high in the mountains of Colombia crop scientists set to work cross breeding the Timor strain with a standard Colombian coffee, Caturra. The first result was called Colombia followed by Castillo and Cenecafe 1. These coffee varieties that defeat leaf rust rely on several plant genes that confer resistance so that if the fungus mutates to counter one defense of the coffee plant there will be other plant traits that protect it.

Convincing the Coffee Farmer

When a coffee farmer plants new shoots of one of the leaf rust resistant Arabica coffee varieties it takes several years to get mature coffee plants and full production. Also a coffee farmer is used to the varieties that he has planted for years if not decades on his farm. Switching over is not always easy and can be costly. But several years ago a third of Colombia’s crop was infested with leaf rust and farmers were forced to make changes. The government offers subsidies for those who plant the new leaf rust resistant varieties and today a third of Colombian coffee is from new leaf rust resistant strains. As peace comes to Colombian coffee growing regions some growers will revert to old strains but for many who need to replant it will be an ideal time to go with coffee varieties that defeat leaf rust.

Which Is the Safest Decaf Coffee?

The question has risen again of whether or not decaffeinated coffee is bad for you with an article in Consumer Reports. The first method used the chemical solvent benzene.

We now know that when inhaled, even in small amounts, benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation. Over the long term and in high doses, benzene has been linked to cancer, blood disorders, and fetal development issues in pregnant women.

It’s no wonder the new type of brew-which later relied on other similarly toxic solvents-got a bad rap.

Today, coffee manufacturers have switched to safer decaffeination methods, though many still use potent chemicals to strip away caffeine. Meanwhile, researchers have wondered whether any of coffee’s healthful compounds are lost along with the caffeine.

The FDA says that the trace amount of chemical left over in decaf coffee after roasting are not a big risk to your health. But if you are a lover of healthy organic coffee why do you want to back up and put unwanted solvents in your Java?

A few years ago we wrote about decaf coffee risks.

Considering the number of impurities that one avoids by drinking certified organic coffee this may be a useful thing to do. There are as many as 130 unwanted chemical in regular coffee that are not found in organic coffee according to health authorities in Australia. Although high doses of pesticides are lethal and moderate doses of pesticides are known to produce a variety of bad results, there is no clear evidence of just how much damage is done by drinking regular coffee with pesticides added versus organic coffee.

The point is that organic coffee is free of lots of things you really do not want in your coffee. It turns out that if you stick with organic decaf you also avoid the solvents. How is organic coffee decaffeinated? The Swiss water process is the only decaffeination process that is certified as organic.

Coffee beans are soaked in hot water to remove caffeine. The water passes through an large-pore activated charcoal filter. The pore size is such that larger caffeine molecules are trapped and smaller molecules (oils, antioxidants) pass through. The remaining water contains flavor elements but not caffeine.

Then the first batch of beans is discarded! New beans are then soaked with the flavor rich but caffeine free water. Osmosis takes caffeine out of the beans to until its concentration is the same in the bean and in the water. But the flavor elements are already equally concentrated in bean and water so they are not removed. The company tests their product to guarantee that their coffee is 99.95% caffeine free. Decaf coffee made with this process is always labeled as Swiss Water decaf.

Which is the safest decaf coffee? That would have to be Swiss Water decaf although there is a carbon dioxide extraction process which also avoid solvents. It is however very expensive and only used with high end coffees.

 

Why Should I Buy Organic Coffee?

Another one of our readers asked this question the other day. “Why should I buy organic coffee?” Considering that organic coffee may be harder to find and more expensive than regular why buy organic? The health benefits of coffee are the same for all types of coffee according to researchers. What are the differences that should guide you to healthy organic coffee instead of regular? There are two good reasons to buy organic coffee. One is that organic coffee is free of many impurities found in regular coffee and two is that organic coffee is grown using sustainable farming practices that guard the soil and water table against erosion and contamination.

Things to Avoid When You Drink Coffee

In our healthy organic coffee article we noted that the Australian Food Standards Authority found in regular coffee lots of stuff you would not want to be drinking.

A study by the Australian Food Standards Authority revealed that as many as 133 contaminants may be in a cup of commercially available coffee. These contaminants include metals such as aluminum and zinc, pesticide residues, ochratoxin A, acrylamide, furan, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found to cause cancer. Furans have been associated with skin disorders, liver problems, certain kinds of cancers, impairment to the reproductive, endocrine, and immune system, as well as effects on embryonic development.

Organic coffee certification assures you that synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and other unpleasant ingredients are not in your cup of java.

Organic coffee differs from regular coffee in several aspects. The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land. Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport. Along the way procedures must be in place at every step to insure that there is no contamination of the healthy organic coffee produced in pristine soil with regular coffee produced on soil exposed to herbicides, pesticides, and organic fertilizers.

And the processes used to grow organic coffee preserve the environment as well.

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable coffee production saves the soil for years to come and preserves the natural habitat.

The term often used to describe the constellation of practices in organic farming is sustainability.

People should be able to choose food that is produced using organic regenerative practices based on sound ecological principles that rejuvenate the soil, grasslands and forests; replenish water; promote food sovereignty; and restore public health and prosperity – all while cooling the planet by drawing down billions of tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil where it belongs.

The point being that it is possible to repair the earth and not just maintain the status quo. The problem is if people are willing to pay the cost by purchasing more expensive food.

Buy organic coffee to preserve the earth and buy organic coffee to avoid drinking fungicides with you morning cup of Joe.

Peace Comes to the Coffee Growing Regions of Colombia

On November 30, 2016 both house of congress in Colombia ratified a peace agreement between the government and FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army). The half century long Colombian Civil War was over. During the war more than 200,000 people died, most of whom were civilians. And more than 5 million people were displaced from their homes. Many of those people were farmers in the coffee growing region of Colombia, the Eje Cafetero. Today many coffee farmers are coming home as peace comes to the coffee growing regions of Colombia.

Peace, More Farmers and More Arabica Coffee

U.S. News writes about peace will affect Colombian coffee production.

Farmers who fled war in the Colombian Andes are returning to revive their abandoned land, cultivating coffee trees that are boosting global supplies of the highest-quality beans.

Colombia’s five-decade civil war, the longest in the Americas, displaced millions and disrupted farming for decades in areas that produce coffee for the most exacting consumer.

The revival of coffee farming in the former conflict zones could help boost Colombia’s coffee output by 40 percent, according to government estimates. That would raise global supplies of mild Arabica beans by about 13 percent.

The additional supply could reduce the cost of the raw material for the world’s top roasters, many of whom are seeking to secure increased supply from Colombia.

Colombia is the world’s third leading coffee producer. However, second place Vietnam is primarily a Robusta producer. Brazil out produces Colombia in coffee volume but Colombian coffee centered around Manizales is generally considered the best Arabica in the world.

Some of the best coffee in the world comes from a place where the highway signs give you a choice of heading to Bogota or Medellin.

Manizales, Colombia Highway Signs

This piece of coffee heaven is Manizales, Colombia. The main highway to neighboring Pereira is even called the coffee highway, the Careterra de Café. Coffee grows everywhere from lowlands to mountain tops. Coffee loves cloudy skies, rain and moderate temperatures making the daytime highs of 70 degrees and nighttime lows of 58 degrees perfect.

Along the Coffee Highway

Along the Coffee Highway

Manizales was founded in the mid-19th century by 14 families who moved into this mountainous region specifically to grow coffee. They are now known as the founders or Fundadores. The local upscale mall is the Fundadores and a large local grocery store is La 14 in reference to the founders. Coffee culture is everywhere and Manizales is the home of the Colombian Coffee Growers Association.

Now that hostilities have ceased there are coffee farmers moving back into the mountains throughout the Colombian coffee growing district and their main focus is high quality Arabica coffee. It takes a few years from planting to having a coffee crop but in a few years Colombian coffee production is expected to go up by nearly half again and that will raise worldwide Arabica production by a seventh.

If you are interested in unique and high quality green bean or roasted Colombian coffees shipped directly from the source contact us at BuyOrganicCoffee.org.

Is Organic Coffee Shade Grown?

One of our readers recently asked, is organic coffee shade grown? Here is the short answer. More often than not shade grown coffee is organic but organic coffee does not need to be grown in the shade. Read on for more info about healthy organic coffee and shade grown coffee.

Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

A study in Australia showed that as many as 133 unwanted contaminants can be found in regular coffee. If you want to avoid unnecessary chemicals in your coffee, look for organic coffee certification when you buy.

Just what is organic coffee certification and how does organic coffee certification insure the bona fid cup of organic coffee? Organic coffee differs from regular coffee in several aspects. The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land. Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport.

Organic coffee certification does not require that coffee is grown in the shade but shade grown coffee is more often organic than not. Growing coffee in the shade is going back to how coffee grows in the wild.

Growing organic coffee in the shade is done by two methods. One is to partially clear forest and plant coffee. The other is to plant trees among the coffee in order to provide shade. When fruit trees are used the coffee grower enjoys two crops on the same land. He grows healthy organic coffee and crops such as plantain as well.

When the coffee grower simply plants coffee in among the trees of a mountainside forest it is unlikely that any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or fungicides will be involved. This is the natural way to grow organic coffee. This coffee may or may not be certified but it is indeed organic and the method of growing it is the pinnacle of sustainable coffee production. And when the farmer grows coffee in this way it is also good for other aspects of the habitat as noted in our article about coffee for the birds.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has a Bird Friendly Coffee page on their web site.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has developed the only 100% organic and shade-grown coffee certification available: Bird Friendly.

That’s right-no other bag guarantees that every bean is produced organically and under high-quality shade. Our seal of approval ensures tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds find a healthy haven when they travel from your backyard to those faraway farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.

The point is that USDA certified and other certifications do not guarantee that the forest habitat was preserved while the Bird Friendly Coffee certification does.

In short, shade grown coffee is typically organic and good for the environment but you can also get organic coffee that is grown interspersed with other food crops such as plantain or banana but not totally shade grown.

The Best Organic Coffee is Shade Grown with the Birds

The Best Organic Coffee Provides Bird Habitat

Why Are There Elephants in the Coffee?

As coffee farmers in India open new land to raise their crops they move into areas inhabited by native wildlife. In the case of India one of those wildlife critters is the Indian elephant!  India is the 7th leading coffee producer after Honduras and before Uganda. It exports nearly 6 million bags (60 kg each) each year compared to 43 million for Brazil, 27 million for Vietnam and 13 million for Colombia. A problem that the top three producers do not have is wild elephants roaming into the coffee plantation! WTOP News notes the issue of your coffee habit and elephant habitat.

Tom Grant, a journalism professor at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and director of the documentary “Elephants in the Coffee,” said in the last 30 years, India’s coffee industry has doubled. As a result, coffee plantations have taken over the natural habitats of many animals, including elephants.

“We were seeing more and more elephants forced into captivity, forced into chains, as one solution to try to keep them away from harming people or harming crops in these coffee plantations,” said Grant, who first became aware of the issue on a trip to Southern India in 2012.

Conflict between agriculture and wildlife is not new or unique to India. Elephants see coffee plantations as forests – they find water, shade and food there, Grant said. They also find fear.

If elephants become a problem for coffee growers the elephants are scared off and sometimes captured. They are huge animals and they scare people. Likewise the elephants become frightened and then become aggressive. About 300 people a year are killed by elephants in India.

Major coffee companies such as Starbucks and Tata have instituted practices on their farms that move toward coexistence. Their workers monitor elephants and move around them as they come through the plantations.

“When the elephants are in one sector, they warn all the workers through text messages, and then move the workers to another area,” Grant said.

The problem is that coffee farmers and elephants are competing for the same habitat as coffee growing is forced into smaller areas due to climate changes and related coffee infestations such as coffee leaf rust. We wrote about how climate change has driven coffee production to high elevations.

In the coffee growing region of Colombia they grow varieties like Caturra at lower altitudes around 3,000 to 5,000 while Arabica grows best in the 5,000 feet and above range. Part of this is because of coffee leaf rust which thrives at lower altitudes. As temperatures have risen on the mountainsides of Colombia, Arabica is being planted higher and higher while left rust resistant Caturra replaces it in the low and middle altitudes. This problem is not limited to Colombia as climate change drives coffee farmers to higher elevations.

The problem when it heats up is that it also can get very dry and the combination of heat and drought in an area like Ethiopia which has an arid climate anyway can be devastating. Coffee farmers will keep moving up the slopes so long as there is room to plant and the necessary water.

The other issue is that coffee leaf rust is more prevalent at lower altitudes.

Is Organic Decaf Coffee Bad for You?

One of our readers is concerned about making decaf from organic coffee. Is organic coffee bad for you and does it degrade the coffee to remove the caffeine? Years ago we wrote about decaf coffee risks.

The concern today with a decaf coffee risk is that decaf coffee contains greater amounts of two substances which are known to elevate cholesterol. Although kahweol and cafestol are both removed by coffee filters, not everyone uses a paper filter when brewing coffee. (Think French Press.) The two substances, kahweol and cafestol, are diterpenes, and they have been found to raise low density cholesterol and triglycerides by as much as twenty percent. The flip side of this concern is that the two substances also seem to have anti-cancer properties. Considering that coffee consumption is known to reduce the risk of liver, prostate, colon, and endometrial cancer, it cannot be all bad. So, is there decaf coffee risk with higher cholesterol levels? There is no long term risk that we know of for increased heart disease with regular or decaf coffee.

Kahweol and Cafestol

These are two virtually identical chemical substances. Food-info.net writes about Cafestol and Kahweol.

The concentration of these two compounds depend on the type of coffee; arabica beans contain both cafestol and kahweol, whereas robusta beans contain half as much cafestol and hardly any kahweol. In arabica beans they may be present in up to 1% of the total volume of the beans.

Cafestol raises serum cholesterol more potently than kahweol does. A mixture of cafestol (60 mg/day) and kahweol (51 mg/day) increased serum cholesterol only slightly more than pure cafestol (64 mg/day) did. Results with pure kahweol are not available due to difficulties with purification and stability of this diterpene.

Because these substances stick to paper filters they occur in lower concentrations in filtered coffee. Both paper filters and cloth filters remove significant amounts of both chemicals. And both of these substances also have anti-cancer properties as well and considering that drinking coffee reduces the incidence of various cancers perhaps having a little Cafestol or Kahweol in your coffee is not all bad.

Other Problems with Decaf Coffee

Positive Wellness lists a whole host of negative effects of decaf coffee. One of them is the residual chemicals from common decaffeination processes.

The most common method for decaffeinating the coffee beans uses chemical solvents that may leave a residue on the coffee seeds. Soaking the coffee seeds in several chemical solvents such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate for about 10 hours may be the reason for this.  The beans are steamed again to remove most of the solvents. Be known that the FDA allows residues of these solvents to remain on the decaf coffee beans even after roasting.

Read the article for more info but remember that the reason you are drinking healthy organic coffee is to avoid all of those unwelcome chemicals that can be found in regular coffee. If you do want decaf remember that decaf is not caffeine free. Drink five cups of decaf coffee and you will get about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of regular java. And if you are really concerned about your cholesterol you might consider Robusta or simply use a filter when you make your coffee!

What Is the Most Expensive Coffee in the US?

Some folks are willing to pay a premium for unique coffees. That person is a coffee gourmet.

Are you a coffee gourmet? If so you probably like healthy organic coffee. Are you familiar with Panama mountain grown organic coffee or Colombian organic coffee brands? Do you prefer coffee house coffee on the way to work? If you are a coffee gourmet you have refined tastes for coffee and a passion for higher end varieties of the beverage. You probably insist on Arabica coffees and avoid Robusta at all costs. And, if you aspire to be a coffee gourmet what is the best way to proceed?

Or do you prefer gesha coffee?

Gesha coffee is a gourmet variety grown in the highlands of Chiriquí Province in the west of Panama, the last Central American country before you get to Colombia (South America). Once part of Gran Colombia, the Panama has a climate along its mountainous spine similar to the much larger Eje Cafetero in Colombia. It is in the coffee growing region of Panama near the town of Boquete that planters grew a leaf rust resistant Ethiopian coffee variety. Gesha gets its name from the Ethiopian village where it was first found. Planters tried Gesha in the 1950s but it was when the variety was resurrected in the early 2000s that its quality was first noted. Today Gesha coffee sells for as much as $35,000 for a 100 pound bag at auction! Considering that standard green coffee sells for a couple of dollars a pound, the Gesha coffee variety is in the stratosphere.

A true coffee gourmet is willing to pay a lot for a special coffee. We wrote recently about third wave coffee as a phenomenon. But the most expensive coffee in the US is really from Panama. CNBC writes about $350 a pound coffee, gesha!

One brew is for fanatics only: an $18 cup of coffee at the Extraction Lab by Alpha Dominche in Brooklyn, N.Y., as seen on an upcoming episode of CNBC’s “Secret Lives of the Super Rich.”

The beans are a high-end variety called “gesha” beans, which come from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates in Panama and allegedly have a lighter, “more tea-like” taste than other blends, Eater reports. It goes for as much as $350 a pound, and is the most expensive coffee in America, according to “Secret Lives of the Super Rich.”

Because folks are drinking a cup of coffee and not buying a pound or more of gesha coffee beans at auction the price is high but affordable. More affordable is to go to the El Rey supermarket on Via España in the capital city of Panama and buy a half pound bag of gesha coffee, not at auction, for around $14! There are several growers in Panama who produce gesha coffee and you don’t need to bid in the hundreds of dollars go enjoy the coffee. You do, however, want to drink this coffee black. That is because too much milk, creamer or sugar will overpower the unique taste. You also want lightly roasted beans to preserve the natural flavor.