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Hold the Cream and Sugar With This $15 Cup of Joe

In downtown Rochester, a 'Cup of Excellence' is brewing.

There's coffee. And then there's that $15 mug of coffee they're serving up this week at in Rochester.

Yes, that's right. One mug is $15. That's pretty much 10 times the price of a standard mug of coffee at the downtown coffee shop.

It's a Cup of Excellence — literally. The beans arrived in Rochester on Thursday from a farm in San Agustin, Columbia. A farmer named Arnulfo Leguizamo grew the crop and received the award at an international coffee-tasting competition last year. The coffee is called Primavera.

Head coffee roaster Nathan Hamood described the beans as "complex." There's a lot going on in there, he said of the brewed coffee.

Rochester Patch was in the shop Friday afternoon when barista Andrew Vickers served up the first cup of Primavera to some customers who were willing to participate in a taste test.

Here's what the tasters had to say:

  • "It's not bitter at all," said Kevin Johnson, who admits he normally dumps cream and sugar and all kinds of flavor into his coffee to mask the bitterness.
  • "It's earthy," declared Cathy Daldin, who works next door to The Dessert Oasis at .
  • "Now that's smooth coffee," said Al Crawford, who took a break from recording a radio show to sample the coffee. Crawford said he normally drinks two cups of coffee a day.
  • "I normally add cream to my coffee, but this doesn't need it," said Cathy Guest, a coffee drinker from Rochester Hills who was out and about downtown on Friday afternoon.

For an expert opinion, we turned to barista Vickers. He compared coffee-tasting to wine-tasting: you should always look for notes in the drink, he said. "I thought it had some smokey notes and an earthy tone," Vickers said. 

He said the coffee was no stronger than your average cup of coffee — it's all about the natural flavors, he said.

The Dessert Oasis will serve the Primavera roast through Wednesday.

Kristin Drummelsmith March 03, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Although I would feel ridiculous paying $15 for a cup of coffee - I just may have to try this!
rhmusa March 03, 2012 at 07:32 PM
If you are a coffee sofficianado you will pay up just like truly adventurous wine drinkers will pay a lot for wines. I may just have to join you Kristin!
Jen Petrotta March 03, 2012 at 08:25 PM
We LOVE Dessert Oasis - might have to go in this weekend just to say that we have tried this!
exSuburbanite March 05, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Speaking as a coffee professional of about 10 years (and knowing what this coffee costs, green, from the importer), it is absolutely ridiculous to see it sold for this price per cup. Coffees costing 2-3 times this one from the importer are usually sold, brewed, for about half the price of this one. Now, this is not to say that Leguizamo's Primavera isn't a good coffee - it is a highly rated, 1st prize Colombian CoE coffee, and deservedly so. Furthermore, it is awesome to see small private roasters choosing to purchase such high quality products rather than trade in commodity lots to simply turn a profit on a generic good. I wish Dessert Oasis the best in exposing the barren land of Rochester to some top shelf stuff - I'd just like to see them keep in stride with the rest of the progressive coffee world. And yes, I will be stopping by to see how their rendition of the Primavera turned out ;)
kmpg March 05, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I'd have to agree with exSuburbanite. I've been a coffee professional for almost as long and am completely baffled as to how they've justified the price here. True, this shop does operate in a bit of a vacuum--as there aren't many top-tier coffee shops nearby--so they can command a higher price for a world-class cup, but that doesn't justify the price. Methinks they know their clientele (the Rochester element is known for having money to blow, status to elevate, and just enough of a lack of taste to believe that the former implies the latter), and are more than happy enough to charge $15 in Rochester for what $7 would get you at a world-class coffee shop (like, say, Intelligentsia) in Chicago. As my criticism is harsh, I'm obligated to try the Primavera. I'm willing to part with good money for great coffee, but that's never been my experience at the Dessert Oasis. If they deliver something worthy of praise, I'll rescind my comments.

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