As though the past year hadn’t already seen enough record-breakingly expensive foods in New York City (a brief rundown: A $180 bowl of ramen, a $150 platinum-encrusted donut, a $2500 souffle, and, most recently, a $2000 pizza), the city also now boasts the country’s most expensive cup of coffee.
It comes courtesy of the brand-new coffee shop Extraction Lab, which just opened in the Industry City area of Brooklyn. The space acts as the headquarters of Alpha Dominche, which manufactures the “Steampunk” machine, from which the brew comes forth. That’s the machine’s actual name, not its aesthetic: Space-age in appearance, it was “designed to combine all the elements of drip, French press, and espresso brewing,” according to Bedford + Bowery. Baristas use an app on a tablet device to control all brewing parameters (water temperature, agitation, ratio, time, etc), tailored to each specific coffee to bring out its optimal flavors. The coffees range in price from $3 to $18 per 12 oz. cup, reports Daily Coffee News. Could an $18 cup of coffee possibly be worth it? There’s only one way to find out. We headed over.
There were four types of coffee on offer when we visited, ranging from $3 (Finca Santa Rosa, from El Salvador) to $14.75 (Jeremy Zhang Gesha, from Panama) per cup. It turned out the $18 one wasn’t available yet, so we went with the $14.75 one; it came out to $17.70 with tip.
And here’s where I switch to first-person singular. I’ll admit I went in skeptical, expecting to consider it overpriced and overrated, ready to list all of the other beverages (hint: mostly alcohol) I’d rather spend that kind of money on. But here’s the thing: This was unequivocally the single best cup of coffee I’ve had in my life. It had the floral notes and vibrant acidity you’d expect from a good washed Ethiopian coffee, yet was earthy and relatively full in body—a rare combination. Sip for sip, this coffee could hold its own against the finest red Burgundy wines as far as structure and complexity and sheer pleasure of drinking are concerned. “I tasted it early this morning and I was like, I think I’m done. I think I could drink this the rest of my life and be good,” the barista commented to me as she operated the Steampunk. “I just couldn’t afford it.” Same, girl. But as a rare splurge, if you appreciate coffee, that pricey Panama Gesha is well worth it.