I love a good coffee as much as the next Australian but at $666 a kilogram Ironman Geisha makes tea sound good
There's this coffee called Caterer's Blend. You find it in the tearooms of tight-arsed institutions that have a high volume of randoms floating through in search of a caffeine transportation vehicle. A little "black magic" so they can endure the next five minutes without killing themselves or the people they are paid to deal with.
Caterer's Blend comes in a giant pop-the-lid-off-with-the-end-of-a spoon-tin, so big you could fit a three-month-old baby inside and put the lid back on with no problem. (Don't ask me how I know.) What's fascinating about Caterer's Blend - I know you can't wait for me to finish this sentence - is the genius of coming up with a coffee that's passable enough to drink if you're really desperate, but not good enough for anyone to nick. Caterer's Blend has been around for decades and they sell heaps of it.
Of course we'd prefer a lovely, silky, nutty, chocolatey, thick, hot aromatic vessel of steaming freshly brewed delight but the bottom line is, we'll drink anything if we have to. If it's black, hot and has caffeine it, pass me the sugar. So much for us all being coffee connoisseurs: we'll settle for a plastic cup of something nasty to get our fix. As long as we get a biscuit.
Which makes the story of the Ironman Geisha such a monumental wank. Ironman Geisha is "Australia's most expensive and prized coffee bean". And I'm fairly confident they don't use it in Caterer's Blend, as a 150g jar will cost you $100.
Look, I like nice coffee as much as the next person and I have been known to order a coffee, wait five minutes for it to be made, pay for it and take one sip and if it's a dog turf it straight in the bin outside the cafe. But $666 a kilo?
What does Ironman Geisha taste like? Baby's breath, the scent of a virgin's hair and angel dust? According to the literature (when I say literature I mean an article I read on Facebook), "Ironman Geisha boasts notes of sweet tangerine citrus, orange, pineapple blossom, jasmine, milk chocolate and rose."
Er, I prefer my coffee to taste like coffee. If I wanted potpourri ... I just don't.
And to be honest I don't care what this coffee tastes like, at $666 a kilo it's still a ripoff. Who asked for this? Who was the person who looked into their cup and exhaled forlornly, thinking: "If only this coffee tasted of sweet tangerine citrus, orange, pineapple blossom, jasmine, milk chocolate and rose and cost as much as a tank of petrol. Then I would feel sated. Now that truly would be 'choice'."
I'm into the fetishisation of coffee as much as the next unbearable inner-city Melburnian. I own a grinder and an Atomic Coffee Maker, but this ludicrousness will not catch on. Australian coffee drinkers won't pay that much. No cup of coffee is worth that much pomp and ceremony. We like the ritual of the coffee without the pretentiousness.
I have no idea exactly how much a cup of coffee costs. Somewhere between three and five bucks. And that's the beauty of coffee, it's a simple pleasure; only lovely if we get the bill and don't spit the coffee over the other side of the room in horror. It's a cheap thrill we can pretty much always afford. If we were into splashing around money to impress the people around us we'd buy a choc top at the movie theatre.
Australia has come a long way in a short time with coffee. The Pablo instant coffee that was a fixture of all Australian homes in the 60s and 70s has now mercifully been overtaken by the plunger, stovetop percolator and state-of-the-art kitchen bench coffee machines. People can't go anywhere without a take away coffee glued into their hands and the barista is now Australia's most revered and trusted occupation.
So sure, we don't want to drink caffeinated dishwater, but coffee that costs more than the whole meal? You're dreaming.
Are you an annoying, pretentious, ghastly bean bore who loves nothing more than dissecting, discussing and debating roasting, grinding and crema to the point where it has nothing to do with pleasure and comfort but everything to do with about being crowned King of the Know-alls?
If you're insane enough to spend $666 a kilo for coffee you'll also "be invited to attend a bespoke Cupping session".
I'll just have tea, thanks.
Photo: Coffee is a cheap thrill we can pretty much always afford. Photograph: Mark Weiss/Getty Images