March 31 - As Americans face higher coffee prices, one bold Brooklyn coffee shop has been having success selling the luxury espresso drink for a double digit price tag. Conway Gittens reports.
Everyone needs an extra jolt in the morning, but ten dollars for a latte? Really? At Budin, a new coffee bar in New York's Greenpoint, baristas sell about twenty of these pricey drinks a day. The secret, they say, lies in special beans from a Norwegian roaster, Tim Wendelboe. Elliot Rayman is a co-owner. (SOUNDBITE) ELLIOT RAYMAN, CO-OWNER, BUDIN COFFEE BAR, (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "We have amazing coffee from Tim Wendelboe, and I was tasting it, and diluting it, I also had a sample from a Danish licorice manufacturer, and I put the two together, basically, in a latte, added a few ingredients, added a bit of extra care to it and came up with the drink, and the price is just, that's how much it actually costs." A new study from the National Coffee Association shows the popularity of espresso-based drinks is skyrocketing in the U.S., the world's biggest coffee consumer. Also, Americans are developing more gourmet taste. (SOUNDBITE) KEVIN SINNOT, COFFEE EXPERT, AUTHOR OF "THE ART & CRAFT OF COFFEE" (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "There is a big change in coffee culture happening, and I would say it comes down to this: people are actually drinking less coffee, but finer coffee. They're interested in drinking it as a flavor, as an ingredient, such as having a glass of wine in the evening to kick back and relax, really savor it, sip." America's growing love for gourmet coffee comes at the time when wholesale coffee prices have gone through the roof. There are three main reasons for that: drought in Brazil, fungus in Central America and unrest in Kenya. And even though big companies like Starbucks and Maxwell House haven't yet, smaller-brand roasters in the U.S. are quietly raising prices. But a $10 latte? (SOUNDBITE) KEVIN SINNOT, COFFEE EXPERT, AUTHOR OF "THE ART & CRAFT OF COFFEE" (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "If it's made from direct trade coffee from a family farm and someone lovingly raised those coffee plants and the seeds resulting from them were properly graded, shipped and processed and brought to a roaster who did a fantastic job roasting them, just to the peak of perfection and then they're fresh they're within the two weeks of the roast, and the person who it the barista, carefully got their grinder calibrated, made the coffee absolutely perfectly, and the milk texturing properly, with a good, grass-fed milk locally, you know, I have no problem with it." And never rule out conspicuous consumption. It's worked for years in other industries and why should it not in coffee? (SOUNDBITE) ELLIOT RAYMAN, CO- OWNER, BUDIN COFFEE BAR, (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "The latte is just an addition to the entire coffee community that is happening right now in New York. And you can go and get many different types of high quality expensive coffees around the city, and this is just another option for you." (SOUNDBITE) KEVIN SINNOT, COFFEE EXPERT, AUTHOR OF "THE ART & CRAFT OF COFFEE" (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "I know a number of people in the business now. And I think they are always experimenting where they can price things. I'm sure number of them will watch this story and say 'Mhmm... I wonder if I can get away with that in my town.'" Whatever your choice, a place like Budin or mainstream Starbucks, that morning pick-me-up is going to cost you more soon.