Eating my way around the five boroughs (in one day I tried out a food truck in Queens, taste-tested tortas in Brooklyn, and visited a pizza joint in Staten Island)—and writing about it all—is exhausting. I need at least one strong jolt of coffee to keep me going. I’m a loyal Grumpy drinker, but I like something extra-strong when deadlines come around. Will the world’s most expensive coffee do the trick?
The Salt Lake City–originated Alpha Dominche first received worldwide attention earlier this year when it began selling a mighty steep cup o’ joe, a high-grade Ethiopian arabica blend grown in Panama, for a mere $18 a cup. The roasted beans are filtered, steamed, and extracted in the small-scale vacuum brewer the company fondly calls the Steampunk. (I’d make an attempt to explain this in further detail, but this helpful video does the process much more justice.) Looking to upgrade your coffee game at home? A pair of Steampunks will only run you a cool $13K.
I had to check out (and taste) the future of coffee for myself. A quick trip on the D train landed me in Sunset Park, the location of Alpha’s minimalist Extraction Lab inside Industry City. The clean-cut space was relatively bare bones, aside from the succulents and subtle swag lining the walls and issues of Standart magazine waiting to be read on each oakwood table. The centerpiece of the room, as predicted, was a line of eight Steampunks heated up and ready to go.
The drinks menu—offering a selection of specialty beans and leafs from Extraction Lab’s extensive tea library, rotating on a daily basis—was just as curated. The budget-breaking blend wasn’t one of the choices when I strolled into the empty café that fateful morning, but I went for the next best thing: a piping hot cup of Costa Rican coffee for a more reasonable $12. I rarely drink hot brews, but I figured it was the best way to introduce my palate to subdued tasting notes. After the initial burning sensation subsided from my tongue (I’m an eager sipper), I was pleasantly hit with lingering hints of cinnamon, cloves, and apple with every passing trip through my lips. Dare I say, it’s a strong, high-end contender to finally dethrone the pumpkin spice latte from its quintessential autumnal coffee throne.
Extraction Lab isn’t a standard choice for a caffeine-induced pick-me-up—especially given the harrowing journey to get there depending on where you live—but it does the trick when you’re looking to splurge on a multidimensional sip.