Everyone knows about the famous Arabica and Robusta species but is that it? Not really, it is easy to find many Arabica varieties by checking its family tree. Fortunately, the trend of specialty coffee is bringing Arabica’s forgotten sisters back into the game. In Kuala Lumpur, we got to enjoy a particular sort of Coffee Arabica, which was rediscovered in 2004. I’m talking about Geisha coffee, which won the taste of Panama coffee competition and broke the price record at the auction in the very same year.
Geisha Coffee Origins
Different coffee varieties grow in different conditions and produce different coffee beans. The Geisha coffee is one of the high altitude wild coffee plants, originally found in mountains of western Ethiopia. It is believed that the name came from the neighboring Gesha village and not the Japanese Geisha girls. For more confusion, the place of its rediscovery is Panama from where Geisha or Gesha coffee got international recognition.
Anyway, in 1953 Geisha beans were brought to the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica in Latin America. From there this coffee gets to the many plantations, but farmers mostly replace it with others, due to bad yield and not so pleasant taste. To point out, when this variety is growing lower and is not ripe enough, it simply doesn’t shine bright. When in 2004 Esmeralda plantation in the Boquete area of Panama won the first place of Cup of Excellence, its reputation got back.
Where Does it Grow?
More important than its origins is the fact that this is a tricky cultivating plant. For successful growth and bearing precious berries, farmers have to keep in mind a few necessary conditions. Everything starts with a highly humid environment, nutritional soil and temperature ranging from 15 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) to 25 Celsius (75 Fahrenheit). All the needs of this coffee plant are met at the Bouquet region, which stretches from Panama to Costa Rica. This is where the majority of Geisha coffee comes from, but its popularity caused the species to spread. Fortunately, it even found way back home besides the new coffee plantations across South America. For its quality, it is relevant that plants grow above the 1700m, but it is successfully planted already at 1400m.
Why is Geisha Coffee So Expensive?
Besides the delicate nature of the plant, which needs high maintenance it also yields modestly. It looks like that is the reason for exceptional coffee characteristics and limited supply. Many plants died when just one of the already mentioned conditions fell short. Also the high demand for this “coffee royalty” is growing thanks to its praised delicate floral aromas and bold taste. Here we need to mention also the near extinction of Geisha beans. Ethiopia lost all of them and only a few single plants survived in the Panama.
Price of Geisha Coffee
In the first auction in 2004 was one pound of Geisha coffee $21. After that the reputation and recognition spiked up, so on the last auction in July 2018, the most expensive Geisha coffee was sold for extreme $803 per pound, This time it was a natural-process Geisha from the Lamastus Family Estates in Boquete, Panama.
Taste of Geisha Coffee
Before I go into the characteristics of cup quality, I want to mention that many factors affect the final product. Naturally, it starts with the growth conditions, but every step of the way to the freshly brewed coffee matters. To the taste, you’ll find notes of tangerine, ripe mango, papaya, peach, and even refreshing berries. To point out, the most notable among all is its addictive fruity sweetness that you can’t find in any other coffee.
Seriously, in what coffee can you taste and smell the jasmine flower? No wonder it is considered the best coffee in the world. Equally important as the taste is its floral aroma that includes white wine bouquet. The aftertaste relates to the fruity aromas, chocolate, and oils released during the roasting process. In our cup, we also got the ripe red fruit and a velvety texture that slipped down all too quickly.
Geisha Coffee Review Card
- AROMA – 9/109/10
- BODY – 9.3/109.3/10
- FLAVOR – 9.6/109.6/10
- TASTE – 9.7/109.7/10
- AFTERTASTE – 9.4/109.4/10
- VALUE – 8.9/108.9/10
Is Geisha Coffee Our Favorite?
It certainly is one of the best coffees we have ever had, but there is some other coffee still in our first place. That is Black Ivory Coffee from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
This coffee is yet another proof of how precious our mother Earth is. Who knows how many treats like this coffee slipped by and become extinct before we could appreciate them? Now we face new challenges with climate change, which means the decrease in suitable land for growing coffee.
The numbers are predictable, but they aren’t important because no one cares. It really is ironic that we got this precious coffee served in the plastic cup even though it was not a takeaway. Well honestly, if it would be a takeaway, it is just a poor excuse for Natures’ worst enemy. Anyway, the bottom line is to enjoy this delicious Geisha coffee while you can and when you do, appreciate it sincerely.