From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Saturday October 16th 2021

$12 cup isn’t your average joe

If the caffeine doesn’t wake you up, the price certainly will.

At $12 a cup, the coffee at Cafe Grumpy makes Starbucks seem like a bargain brew.

Made from handpicked beans grown and coddled in Ethiopia, the pricey grind will be sold starting today at the chain’s locations in Park Slope and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Chelsea.

“There are flavors you would expect in a really nice glass of wine — it’s a cacophony of nuances,” said Steve Holt, vice president of Ninety Plus Coffee, the company distributing the beans.

“You detect flavors of apricot, pineapple, bergamot, kiwi and lime. The deeper tones are levels of chocolate, and the finish is super clean.”

So why does a cup of Grumpy cost six times the price of a cup of Starbucks?

“It is a higher-end coffee, and you have to take a lot of time developing and processing it,” said Holt. “Once the coffee is harvested, it is dried on a raised African drying bed — the actual coffee cherries never sit on the ground.”

Colleen Duhamel, a coffee buyer and barista at Cafe Grumpy said the Nekisse beans, which are roasted on site, yield a far more complex coffee that should only be taken black.

“As soon as you add milk and sugar to this, you lose a lot of the nuance,” she said.

But not all customers are ready to pay the premium.

“People have had bad reactions to the prices,” she said. “They will think, ‘This place isn’t for me,’ and storm out.”

Even regulars at Grumpy to whom The Post provided samples of the $12 coffee said they would stick with the coffeehouse’s cheaper offerings.

“I’ve spent $12 on a cocktail, but I’d be reticent to pay that much for a cup of coffee,” said Whitney Reuling, 25, after taking a taste.

“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.”

Kate Weinberg, 24, said she could definitely taste the extra $10.

“There is a huge difference over a $2 cup — a sweetness and a tartness to it,” she said. “I would not spend $12 on a cup of coffee, but it is good.”


Reader Feedback

3 Responses to “$12 cup isn’t your average joe”

  1. Matt Andrea says:

    When has coffee created such a buzz? People may think this is a lot of hype, but I, for one, think this is exciting news. I think it may startle people with the reality that Ethiopian coffee is the best in the world and, when carefully roasted and brewed, can be as tasty and satisfying as a glass of fine wine. I look forward to the day when high-quality Ethiopian coffee commands the price it deserves and the farmers who work so hard to cultivate, harvest and process it will benefit.

  2. AddisTunes says:

    I would agree that the farmers need to benefit greater from their hard work and toiling that produces such great coffee. However, I dare say that the farmers are not enjoying any significant benefits from that $12 cup. There are so many structural inefficiencies in the Ethiopia’s coffee industry (i.e. imperfect markets, too many intermediaries, etc.) that the farmers will be the last to benefit. When 1 kilo of organic coffee in Ethiopia sells for maybe $3 now (which is still a lot by historical standards), it is INSANE to charge $12 for one cup of coffee!

    And out of curiosity, what’s wrong with coffee beans touching the ground?

    And you can get decent bottles of wine (not just a glass) for under $12!

    Give these fools my address…I’ll make them some coffee for only $10. :>

  3. AddisTunes says:

    Here’s a research paper on Ethiopia’s coffee industry:

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