24 Mantra Organic
Spanish saffron is divided into grades. Names to look for are coupe, superior, La Mancha, or Rio. Coupe is the top of the line: it has the least flavorless yellow stem and the highest amount of crocin, one of the key essential oils in saffron. If you can't find coupe grade (or don't want to shell out the money for it), those other grades are more affordable and still high quality. Pick your grade by the saffron's final destination. If you're using it as a mélange of spices to glow in the background, a lower grade will do you fine. But for dishes where it's the star, such as risotto Milanese, go for the best you can get (though those lower grades will still taste great).
150 flowers and substantial labor are needed to produce a single gram of saffron; it's only as affordable as it is because harvesters aren't paid much at all. There are less expensive varieties available, but real saffron has a high base rate of expense that its price just can't sink below.
Saffron is the most expensive spice on Earth. This is because of the labour involved in growing and harvesting the spice. Saffron is the red-yellow stigma of the crocus flower and must be hand-picked during short annual flowering seasons. Each flower produces only three stigmas, so it takes approximately 150 flowers to yield just one gram of dry saffron threads. Luckily, very little saffron is needed for cooking. In fact, too much can make food bitter.