Starbucks sells $7-a-cup coffee. Can you tell the difference?


Coffee aficionados have a difficult decision to make: Spend $7 on a full lunch or on a single cup of Starbucks coffee?

The brew in question: The Seattle giant’s new Costa Rica Finca Palmilera, its most expensive offering ever and also one of its rarest. The coffee is part of the company’s Reserve line and costs $7 for a grande cup.

An 8-ounce package costs $40. The uber-premium beans and brew are available only in 46 Starbucks stores in Portland and Seattle, as well as a licensed store in Idaho and Starbucks’ Roy Street Coffee & Tea offshoot in Washington.


There are more than 11,000 Starbucks stores nationwide.

Online, Starbucks has already sold out of a similar offering – the Costa Rica Tarrazu Geisha, listed on the website as having “rose petal aromas with ripe banana and subtle red currant notes and silky mouth feel.” The 450 half-pound bags of beans available were snapped up within 24 hours of being offered Nov. 8.

Both kind of beans are known as Geisha heirloom varietals, named for the village in Ethiopia where they were first discovered before making their way to Central America in the 1950s.

Starbucks justifies the high price by explaining that Geisha plants don’t produce many cherries, making the beans extremely rare and also full of concentrated flavor. This is the company’s first go-round with Geisha beans.

Now Starbucks is working through 3,800 pounds of Finca Palmilera beans, which feature notes of white peach and pineapple, spokeswoman Alisa Martinez said.

“It leaves a tingly, kind of light feeling,” she said. “It’s a very exquisite coffee.”

But try telling that to the consumers pranked by comedian Jimmy Kimmel this week, who set up a fake taste test in Hollywood asking people to distinguish between standard coffee and what was supposedly the “Finca Palmilera” brew. Turns out, both cups contained the same basic Joe.

“I feel like this is a test to find out just how stupid we are,” Kimmel said on his show. “Although, while it’s ridiculous to spend $7 on a cup of coffee, it’s actually not that much more ridiculous to spend $4 on a cup of coffee.”


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