By Kate Krader
Pricey dishes usually announce themselves. The $35 burger at Db Bistro Moderne has foie gras oozing out of the center. The $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity 3 is festooned with gold leaf.
But at Round K cafe on New York’s Lower East Side, the cup of Astronaut coffee is unprepossessing. It’s a pour-over that takes a few minutes to steep and arrives in front of you in a lovely, though not exceptional, china cup. The inky, brown brew arrives without decoration, and a cup costs ..
Coffee with hefty price tags is becoming more common. Eleven Madison Park, voted the best restaurant in the world (with a $295 tasting menu) has introduced a $24 coffee service. It’s made from elite Colombian beans and brewed tableside.
Klatch Coffee Inc. in Southern California recently made noise with a cup of coffee that costs $55. Last year, the roaster in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was the only U.S. company to score a harvest of exceedingly rare Esmeralda Geisha Canas Verdes Natural beans, from Panama. An additional argument can be made for the chocolate-flavored Yemeni beans at up to $240 per pound.
Round K does not have triple-digit tasting menus or fought-over beans. The miniscule café has a roaster in the window, coffee bags for rugs, and My Korean Girlfriend breakfast sandwiches. What makes the Round K Astronaut coffee so pricey is what owner Ockhyeon Byeon does with the beans. He sends them into space.