S-tier coffee nerds and gourmands with deep pockets, good news: the coffee roaster Proud Mary has reached new heights in high-luxury pourover options. Starting February 6, the cafe will sell $150 cups of coffee, specifically a Black Jaguar Geisha from Hartmann Estate in Panama. The coffee won first place at the 2022 Best of Panama competition, and Proud Mary purchased one pound of it for $2,000. Because the beans are so limited, the cafe will only sell 22 cups of the coffee in the United States, split between its Portland and Austin locations.
Those who can’t afford a $150 cup of coffee but are feeling lucky can preorder a different Geisha from the same farm to be entered into a competition for a “golden ticket,” which will allow one person in the United States to try the coffee for free. As for the rest of us, in February the Portland and Austin Proud Mary cafes will offer five additional coffees from Hartmann, likely priced high but not $150-high.
Over the last five years, Proud Mary, which was founded in Australia, has established itself as the Portland leader for super prestigious, award-winning coffee beans. There are very few other places in the city that consistently carry Cup of Excellence honorees — despite the fact the nonprofit is based here. That makes Proud Mary’s pourover list stand out, as it always includes a few $10 to $14 cups from prized farms like Elida Estate in Panama or Alto de Abra in Costa Rica — including various coffees from the sustainability-minded coffee competition.
We, as a culture, pay criminally low prices for our coffee. Considering the sheer amount of labor it takes to harvest, process, and roast beans — not to mention the cost of importing them from warmer growing regions — coffee should cost much more. The coffee growing industry has long-documented issues with slave labor (or close to it), and at every stage of the supply chain people are exploited to keep costs at a rate that coincides with what consumers think they should spend. For advocates of coffee sustainability, the goal is to treat coffee like wine by understanding it as a labor-intensive product, and paying for it accordingly.
Hartmann Estate, a third-generation coffee farm in Panama’s Renacimiento district, consists of two farms tangled among the native rainforest near the Costa Rican border, battling significant rainfall and wind chill at night. The effect of the climate serves to cool down the plants, slowing growth and developing flavor. However, yield is low, meaning there aren’t a ton of beans to go around. And the family behind the farm is adamant that the rainforest providing shade for the coffee plants stays intact. “Their employees come return (sic) every year, as do their buyers, because they like their vision: work together with nature, work the land without destroying it,” the farm’s website reads.
Thinking of coffee as luxurious is not inherently pretentious; it’s conscious of the labor and true cost of producing something we take for granted. But interrogating the why of a price — that’s the next step in the process. And $150 is a pretty expensive “why.”