Panama Geisha Coffee, yet another record price in 2020
Panama Geisha coffee is one of the most revered coffee varietals these days. No wonder that coffee aficionados around the world have been waiting for the outcome of the Best of Panama coffee auction this year as well. The closely watched auction is held every year since 1996 by the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama and seems to guarantee record prices year after year.
These were the record prices of the last three years. Please note, the price is per pound of green coffee beans:
2017 – $601 by Hacienda La Esmeralda
2018 – $803 by Lamastus Family Estates
2019 – $1,029 by Lamastus Family Elida Estates
The result of the 2020 auction
With $1,300.50, the previous record was shattered again at the Best of Panama Auction in September 2020. It’s not only a record for Panama but a world record price. This year’s winner is Finca Sophia, a relatively young farm in Chiriqui’s highlands, near Nueva Suiza.
During the auction, 50 lots of 100 pounds each were sold. Not all lots could fetch such a high price. Still, four lots sold for more than $350, among them, Elida Geisha Washed from last year’s winner, Lamastus Family Estates, which went for $400. The lot with the lowest price in this auction still fetched a very respectable price of $29.50.
Finca Sophia, still a newcomer
The success of Finca Sophia is remarkable, as the farm was established only in 2008 by Helen Russell & Brooke McDonnell of Equator Coffees and Willem Boot & Catherine Cadloni of Boot Coffees. The farm is located at an altitude of 2,100 meters, making it one of Central America’s highest coffee farms. Practically the only varietal planted on the estate is Geisha. In 2016 Finca Sophia won the Good Food Award, and in 2017 they won first place in the Best of Panama coffee competition in the Washed Geisha category. In 2020 they topped their success story, winning first place in Washed Geisha, second in Natural Geisha, and being awarded the Panama Cup.
Finca Sophia, one of the highest coffee farms
Anything above 1,500 meters is considered a very high altitude in coffee cultivation. Finca Sophia tops that easily by its location at 2,100 meters. The bold decision to establish a farm at this altitude and to plant this legendary coffee varietal originating from Ethiopia was finally rewarded with its well-earned success.
What makes high grown coffee so unique?
Altitude is a factor for higher quality in the grading system of many coffee-producing countries. It also has a substantial impact on the flavor profile. The unique climate at higher altitudes with cool but not frosty temperatures, moderate rainfall, and plenty of sunshine subjects the coffee trees to tremendous stress and prolongs the coffee cherries’ ripening process. The longer the maturation, the more complex sugars are forming, and a delicate flavor profile has time to develop.
Who are the buyers of Panama Geisha coffee?
In this auction again, the major buyers were from China, Japan, and Taiwan. The record Finca Sophia lot went to a buyer in China.
We know these countries as tea-drinking nations and one would not expect them in the coffee market. But with a growing number of affluent consumers, they have developed a voracious appetite for any luxury. Fashion, French wine, and now high-end coffee are their targets. And they only go for the best – at least for the most expensive.
How much is a cup of Panama Geisha in a coffee house?
To be clear, the record price of $1,300 was just for one lot, and many other Panama Geisha coffees sold for considerably less. Despite lower prices, they also are of excellent quality and will give you an outstanding experience. But because of the limited supply, it might be hard to find a coffee shop carrying it.
I found a house, called Geshary Coffee, in Tokyo’s business district. There, you can enjoy a cup of Panama Geisha for about $15. This price may sound expensive for someone not familiar with Tokyo prices. But it is reasonable when you compare it to coffee prices in the nearby Ginza district where you may have to pay the same amount for a Whatever-Blend.
For our readers’ benefits, if you find a coffee shop in your area serving Panama Geisha coffee, please leave the info in the comments below.
Where can you buy Panama Geisha Coffee?
Some of the Estates mentioned above do have a website where you can buy their beans. Most of them are not really equipped for retail business and one of the most reliable sources is amazon.com which offers a good selection of Panama Geisha coffee beans at various price levels.