Coffee Review evaluates and rates coffees that are intended for both espresso and non-espresso brewing. We are agnostic on brewing method from the point of view of rating a coffee. So, it’s reassuring to see that the average posted score for espressos (92.10) by American roasters in the first half of 2013 is nearly identical to that for non-espressos (92.14).
However, the average price of coffees intended for espresso brewing was dramatically less than than that for other coffees. The average price for espressos, most of which were single origins, was $18.99 per pound. The non-espressos averaged $24.32 per pound. That’s a difference of $5.33, or more than 20%!
Yes, we’re dealing with only 6 months of reviews so it’s possible that it is just a statistical anomaly. However, looking at the data in more detail, it appears that high-end outliers drive much of the higher cost of non-espressos. For example, we see a handful of outstanding Hawaiian coffees that cost upward of $50 per pound that we just don’t see as espressos. We see expensive luwak or civet coffees that typically aren’t intended for espresso brewing. High quality, more expensive Cup of Excellence coffees seem to appear more frequently as non-espressos than as espressos.
However, even normalizing for these outliers, espressos are still almost $2 per pound less expensive than non-espressos. Why is that? Is it a conscious effort? Do American roasters as a whole focus their resources on non-espressos? Do they put their best and most expensive beans in non-espressos? Or can they simply charge more for non-espressos?