All through December, SFoodie is bringing you local gift ideas for the food obsessives in your life.
The other day the kind folks at Blue Bottle sent over a little tin of special small-lot Ethiopian Nekisse coffee that retails for $15 for a third of a pound. We were initially struck by the high price tag, but once we tried a cup we realized that this was such a different breed of coffee that to compare it to our usual morning blend was like comparing a rare wine to something you pick up on sale at Safeway. Ethiopian Nekisse was more delicate, fruiter, and nuttier than your average coffee, with a flavor profile I hadn't encountered in a cup before. At the price, it's hard to justify buying it for everyday use. But with its impressive taste and hip packaging, it would make a great hostess gift or treat for the holidays.
So why is it so expensive? Basically, these are rare, heirloom beans that undergo careful processing (Blue Bottle teams up with Ninety Plus Coffee to source them). They also have a stellar reputation among coffee cognoscenti and excellent cupping scores, so there's a high demand for them -- the beans made headlines a few years ago when Cafe Grumpy in New York served Ethiopian Nekisse for $12 a cup.
And as it is, the $15 price tag for these beans at Blue Bottle evens out to about $2.50 per cup, which isn't any worse than a latte habit. The Small Lot series also includes Guatemala Finca El Injerto Capadocia Peaberry beans for $12 and Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha beans for $25/tin. But think about it: You wouldn't bat an eye for laying out extra cash for wine around the holidays, so why should coffee be any different?
Or as Tom and Donna say on Parks & Rec, Treat yo self.