Exclusive expensive coffees - why roasters buy them


Most tender coffees have a high selling price because they have won various competitions or prizes. Jordan Dabov is the CEO of Bulgarian roaster Dabov Special Coffee and explains that expensive, exclusive coffees are sold at auctions such as Best of Panama (BoP) or Cup of Excellence (CoE).

Best of Panama is a competition that judges batches of coffee from Panamanian producers on their quality and then auctions them off. Hacienda La Esmeralda is the family farm that first introduced BoP's Geisha coffee, which started the trend of expensive coffees sold at auction and inspired other producers to start growing it.

Another prestigious competition is the Cup of Excellence. Here, the top ten coffees are cupped at least 120 times and are judged on characteristics such as flavour, aroma and overall coffee balance. Last year, Jordan paid USD 120 ( approximately CZK 2 600 000) for 500 grams of Honduras coffee, which won first place in the Cup of Excellence competition.

Producers often take time to decide which coffee to submit to the competition. It is usually judged first at a local competition before going on to the next round, which involves international judges and an audit process to ensure the impartiality of the judging. The people who buy these expensive coffees must also go through a rigorous approval process, which will depend on factors such as their reputation and ability to secure payment for the coffee.

Most auctions and competitions require coffees to achieve a certain score to justify their price. Wilford Lamastus Jr runs Lamastus Family Estates, a group of coffee shops in Panama that was founded in 1918. His family's coffees have won multiple BoP awards and have won five first-place awards in the Geisha category since 2016. They also have Panama's Brewers Cup awards in 2019 and 2020.

Wilford says that producers who have won awards in competitions for their coffees in the past often send samples to buyers before private auctions to create a "bidding war" that drives up the prices of certain items.


Roasters are the primary customers, and a growing number of direct consumers are also interested in these coffees. Ibrahim Al Mallouhi from the United Arab Emirates, who won the 2018 Brewers Championship and owner of The Espresso Lab in Dubai. He recently purchased Batch #2105 of Joseph Brodsky Signature Coffee from Ninety Plus for $10,000 ( which is about 220,230) per kilogram.

Ibrahim warns that while expensive coffees can have amazing flavour profiles and offer customers a unique experience, they should be roasted by experienced and qualified roasters. He believes these roasters should hone their skills through experimentation. This will help highlight the best quality coffee and educate consumers about its origins. As Jordan says, the roaster is the bridge between the coffee producers (the real stars of the fine coffee scene) and their consumers.


High prices for coffee allow their producers to improve production and the entire coffee growing process. They can afford to invest in training, equipment and other improvements. This will encourage further innovation and new processes that result in high quality products.

Wilford hopes that the sale of these coffees will also increase the prices that all producers receive for their coffee, helping to grow more perfect coffees and increase profits for all involved.

In 2004, the first Geisha coffee won the BoP competition by auctioning for $21 ( approx. 500k) for 500 grams, which had never happened before. Since then, the prices of choice coffee have increased every year. The coffee price curves are going up, adding much more value to the industry.

To access these benefits, producers will need to focus on improving the quality of their coffee and not just on creating unique or rare batches of coffee.


While roasters are buying expensive coffees that the direct consumer cannot afford, they are also reaping other benefits. By buying expensive, high-end specialty coffees, it is these coffees that help roasters gain media visibility. Buying an exclusive selection of coffee will give the roaster international interest and publicity that they would otherwise have to pay for themselves.

The resulting publicity that the winning coffee generates in the world can increase demand in the roastery not only for that one particular coffee, but for others as well. Indeed, one exclusive coffee can give the impression that all the other coffees in the roastery are of high quality and thus increase awareness of the roastery.

Another way roasters can use luxury selections is by entering coffees into prestigious barista competitions, thereby again expanding their brand awareness.


Expensive select coffees already play a significant role in today's select coffee market to the benefit of the producers who grow them and the roasters who buy and then roast them. They can be expensive to produce and purchase, but they help draw attention to the efforts of producers and the value of choice coffees at every sale.

Although the media coverage generated by such purchases may be conducive to roasters, attention should be paid to the final price a roaster is willing to pay with the ratio of coffee quality. Roasters and others who want to buy expensive coffee should make sure that the coffee is really good quality and tasty and not base their purchase solely on the marketing and publicity they can get.