What is a Cocobolo Desk? (Full Explanation)

You may have heard of a cocobolo desk, especially if you are a fan of the hit television show, “Better Call Saul.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean you know what the type of desk is, how much it costs, or where you can get one. 

This article answers those questions and more. But first, let’s check out that scene from “Better Call Saul”

What is a Cocobolo Desk

What is a Cocobolo Desk?

A cocobolo desk is a desk made out of rare wood from Central America called cocobolo wood. This lustrous material is highly desired because of the colorful, streaked grain and loveable aroma. They are typically brown but can come in a wide range of other colors as well including yellow, red, purple, and black. 

The desk will have a high sheen and characteristics that are unlike any other. While some manufacturers try to create desks that mimic real cocobolo, they never offer the true appearance that real wood offers. Being an exotic wood, though, cocobolo furniture is never cheap. 

What are Cocobolo Trees?

Cocobolo trees themselves are found in Central America, primarily in areas of Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and surrounding locations. Other names for the cocobolo tree include Granadillo, Nambar, and Nicaraguan rosewood. 

These trees grow best in dry upland areas near the Pacific coast. They grow extremely slow and reach heights of 60 to 80 feet with a diameter of 2 to 3 feet. The wood is strong and used to make all sorts of furniture in addition to desks. It can even be used to make musical instruments! 

There are three main species of cocobolo that can be used in a desk. Mexican cocobolo has swirling patterns and combines red and orange tints with shades of purple and black. The Nicaraguan cocobolo has fewer swirls, but similar coloring. Finally, the Guatemalan cocobolo has lighter tones than the other two species.

As far as hardness goes, it is important to use the Janka hardness test, which is utilized to determine and measure the hardness or softness of any piece of lumber. The higher the number on the test the harder the wood, which is useful for understanding durability and resistance to dents and other damage. Cocobolo wood is quite hard ranking at 2,960 lbf, which makes it tough and it readily withstands scratches, dings, and damage. It is almost twice as hard as white oak and much harder than many other types of wood used for desks as well. 

How Much Does a Cocobolo Desk Cost?

Cocobolo desks can be very expensive and you won’t find any budget options. On the low end, you can find cocobolo desks for around $5,000, but on average you can expect to pay somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000. For a desk made by a known designer or a larger desk that uses more cocobolo wood, you may pay $15,000 or even $20,000 and more. 

Why are Cocobolo Desks so Expensive?

Two reasons: people want it and it’s rare. Due to the inability to grow the wood fast and the fact that people wanting a cocobolo desk want a certain aesthetic, it is hard to meet the demand of those who want the gorgeous wood in their office. There are other types of exotic woods that are similarly priced, but cocobolo is one of the most sought-after wood types for collectors. 

Pros and Cons of Cocobolo Desks

So, you now know what the type of desk is and how much they cost,  but before spending that type of money you probably want to know if the pros outweigh the cons. Let’s break them down one by one. 

Pros

One-of-a-Kind

A cocobolo desk will always be unique and offer an appearance that is not achievable using any other type of material. The color, grain, swirls, marbling, and unique character of each and every piece are the reason that people still buy cocobolo desks despite the rarity and high price point. 

Durability

A cocobolo desk will not become worn and faded easily and it will be sturdy enough to hold all your materials. Not only that, but they should last years or even a lifetime if you care for it properly. The wood is also easy to work with if you want to add customized components or buy the wood to make your own desk out of. 

Value

As long as you take good care of the desk, it will be unlikely to lose a substantial amount of value. That means that you will still be able to sell it for a good amount of years after you purchase it. While you may not get quite as much as you paid, you will be able to get the use out of it and still make some of your money back as long as you find a legitimate buyer. 

Cons

Expensive

This is the factor that drives most people away from buying or building a cocobolo desk. If you have the money to spare, it can be a great investment, but you do want to make sure that you will truly love the desk and get enough use out of it to be worthwhile before spending thousands of dollars. 

Doesn’t Match Some Styles

The look of cocobolo is unique and beautiful, but it may not match some of your existing decor, artwork, and furniture. While the colors are generally brown with other shades of red, gold, and black, it may contrast too much with black decorations and white can clash with it as well. Just keep this in mind before deciding to use the wood.

A Cocobolo Desk

Where to Get a Cocobolo Desk

There are a few online places to get a cocobolo desk, but sometimes they do not have them available because of how rare the wood is. The best bet is to contact a designer directly to find out about their availability and if there is a waitlist. You may also be able to contact high-end furniture stores and importers to see if they ever come across them. One final option is to look for antique or used options directly from sellers online.

You may also be able to find the wood itself and use it to make your own cocobolo desk. This may not be something everyone wants to do, but if you are the DIY type, then you can make it in a way that suits your specific purposes and preferences. 

Alternatives to Cocobolo Desk

If you want a cocobolo desk, but do not have the budget right now or just don’t want to spend that much but still want something to mimic the durability, exotic feel, and natural wood grain. While they still will not look identical to cocobolo, they can be attractive in their own way. 

Read More >> Top 5 Best Wooden Desks (2022 Review)

Pine

Pine is much more affordable, but still quite strong. While it does not look much like cocobolo because of the lighter color and elongated grain, it is durable in much the same way despite being significantly cheaper. 

Douglas-Fir

This is a softwood so it will not have the durable strength of cocobolo desks, but it is a great material that is reasonably priced and has a reddish tint and beautiful marbling that may be a great alternative when it comes to appearance or the aesthetic you are trying to achieve. 

Red Cedar

This is another reddish wood type that can be quite elegant as an alternative option. It is also less common than some other wood species, which means that it mimics the unique aspects of cocobolo better than some. 

Cherry

Cherry is a wonderful wood that is becoming more and more popular. It is excellent and durable with a reddish tint that matches the color scheme many people want with cocobolo. It does not have the same type of swirls, but can still be great and works well with other types of woods. 

Walnut

While walnut is not quite as cheap as some of the other options on this list, it is significantly cheaper than cocobolo and offers a natural brown wood grain. This is a  great choice for those who want to save money, but don’t want to do so with lower quality desks because it is often used in high-end desk products. 

Maple

Maple does not have the color of cocobolo because it is light blonde, but it is extremely durable and very affordable. Plus, it is easy to stain if you want to match a reddish, darker tint of the more expensive options. 

Laminate

Laminate desks are not real wood so they do not have the characteristics of the wood grain and the feel and aesthetic of cocobolo, but they are much more affordable and structurally sound. Plus, there are laminate options with many different color schemes and styles when compared with solid wood desks. 

Final Thoughts on Cocobolo Desks

Cocobolo desks are cool and elegant with a unique appearance that makes them highly desired. However, they are also rare and the supply and demand ratio makes them incredibly expensive. You can find them online and there are some benefits of deciding on cocobolo as the material for a desk. If you don’t want to shell out the money for cocobolo, you do have some alternatives that may achieve what you are looking for in your next desk.

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!
Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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