Words by Campbell Moore
Who drinks regular coffee anymore? You have probably tried to order ‘a large normal coffee’ only to catch some snoot off a pretentious barista who’s trying to explain the difference between Colombian and Sumatran blends. Surprise, you’ve never registered any of that information because you’re dangerously caffeine deprived when ordering coffee. The only evidence of a cup’s level of class is the six dollar transaction record on your debit card.
So, with your crippling caffeine addiction in mind, here is CONVICTS’ brief explanation of just why coffee costs so goddamn much.
So the ground coffee in your latte began as ‘coffee cherries’ on a tree. The cherries get hand-picked by coffee farmers, fermented, stripped down until only their seed remains, which are then washed and dried. After the coffee seeds dry, they’re known as “green coffee” because of, plot twist, their green color. Green coffee gets graded for quality by trained assessors who use a scale from 1-100. If your latte costs $5.50, the coffee beans used in it probably scored at least eighty on the scale, meaning this is “specialty” coffee.
Coffee roasting companies send their “green buyer” to coffee farms in Nicaragua, Kenya, Peru, or any other coffee growing countries to see the farm, meet the farmer, and evaluate whether or not his/her coffee was worth buying. Prices for a pound of specialty green coffee can range from about $6, to about $600, depending on quality. Once the green coffee’s found and purchased it gets shipped to a roasting facility. Generally the back room of a local cafe. Coffee roasters roast and taste coffees until they find the sweet spot between time and temperature that brings out the right flavor. Then they brew the shit out of it en masse.
Now the coffee is finally in the cafe. The barista grinds the coffee and pulls a shot of espresso for your latte. Then they pour the almond milk (also blended and pressed in-store the night before), steam it to obtain a creamy texture it took him months to master, and pours the shape of a tulip into the espresso. He adds a customized heat sleeve to your cup and sends you on your merry way.
Which is a long way of saying, tip your coffee vendor generously. Your caffeine buzz, magical though it may feel, takes a lot of effort.
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