Starbucks has started selling a specialty coffee that costs $7 for a 16-ounce "grande" cup, making it the company's priciest brew, as customers demand more premium products.

The Costa Rica Finca Palmilera coffee costs $40 for a half- pound bag and $6 for a 12-ounce "tall" cup, Lisa Passe, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said in an email. It's made from a rare, difficult-to-grow varietal called Geisha. The new coffee is available at only 46 locations in the U.S. Northwest with expensive Clover brewing machines. No word on when Geisha will go on sale in the Bay Area.

"We have loyal reserve customers who are interested in any opportunity to try something as rare and exquisite as the Geisha varietal," Passe said. "We are now offering more reserve coffees than ever before because of customer demand."

Starbucks, the world's largest coffee-shop operator, competes in specialty coffees with companies such as Chicago- based Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea Inc. and Portland, Oregon- based Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which rely on "single-origin" and "direct trade" coffee to sell to discerning customers.

Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz has added products such as instant coffee, energy drinks, juice, a single- serve brewer and food to sell in the company's shops and in grocery stores.



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