The Münch, a small coffee house in Osaka, Japan, is probably the only place in the world where you can enjoy a cup of freshly brewed 22-year-old coffee. That’s if you can afford it, as a cup will set you back a whopping $914.
The story of what many consider the world’s most expensive cup of coffee started decades ago, totally by mistake. Kanji Tanaka, the owner and sole employee of The Münch, used to a type of ice coffee in the refrigerator so he could serve it to customers right away, only one time he forgot a batch of it in the fridge for over half a year. He couldn’t possibly serve it to paying customers anymore, but before throwing it out he decided to take a sip and see how it tasted. To his surprise, the coffee was still good and had acquired a special flavour.
Around the time he discovered that his months-old coffee was still drinkable, small wooden barrels were all the rage in Japan. They were advertised as a great way to make cheap alcohol taste better, and Tanaka wondered what they could do for his brew. He put the batch of coffee he had forgotten in the fridge in these wooden barrels and let it age for 10 years. When he tasted it a decade later, it had become sweet, almost like a syrup.
So Tanaka started using raw coffee beans aged for 20 years, roasting them himself, grinding them and finally brewing his now-famous vintage coffee using a Nel Drip system similar to a pour-over dripper or a Chemex. Basically, he puts the coffee grounds into a filter and pours hot water over it. Only he has his own way of doing things.
The owner of The Münch pours water into the grounds very slowly, so slowly in fact that it takes 30 minutes for the first drop of liquid to fall in the container underneath the filter. He claims that this way, the coffee is steamed, which brings out its aroma and sweetness, while also eliminating some of its bitterness. The brew is then stored in those small wooden barrels that Tanaka has been using for decades.
The vintage coffee is served right out of these wooden barrels, via incorporated taps, and poured into a one-of-a-kind Miessen cup. Sadly, I’ve not had the pleasure of trying this special coffee, but according to a couple of BuzzFeed reporters that have, it’s really dark, sweet, and chocolaty. One of them likened it to a dessert wine with chocolate notes. Anyway, they both agreed that it’s really tasty.
Unfortunately, most of us will have to take BuzzFeed’s reporters words for it, as the 100,000 yen ($914) price tag of a cup of decades-aged coffee is pretty prohibitive. But, if you have money to burn, or if you’re really into exotic drinks, head over to The Münch and don’t forget to tell us how this intriguing coffee tastes.
You’re probably wondering how Kanji Tanaka makes a living, after all it’s not ever day that people come asking for a cup of his $914 brew. Well, The Münch serves a wide range of coffee drinks, most of which are much more affordable (in the $10-20 range), and judging by Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews, they’re pretty tasty too.