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Panama Geisha Coffee – most expensive coffee in the world

panama geisha coffee boquete
by Manuel Wisotzky

Panama Geisha Coffee  – an outstanding coffee in every respect

Panama Geisha Coffee has been making headlines since about 15 years. Year after year it won top prizes, and consequently, prices raced to new records every year. In 2019 one pound fetched $1,029, a price for coffee beans never seen before and making it the most expensive coffee in the world.

And again in 2020 there is a new record. Here is the update.

panama coffee flag

Other contenders for most expensive coffee

Probably everyone has heard of Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee, better known as Cat Poop Coffee. It must be the yuck factor contributing to its fame. Yes, Kopi Luwak makes the top ten list of the most expensive coffees in the world only in the no. 4 position, according to that list. Please note, this list is compiled by financeonline.com and refers to 2018. If you want to know more about Kopi Luwak, read my post here on this website.

Even more expensive and topping the list is another poop coffee, Black Ivory Coffee, extracted from elephant shit. Bon appétit.

But let’s forget about these and focus on the genuinely outstanding coffee that will give you the experience of a lifetime: Panama Geisha Coffee.

What is Panama Geisha Coffee all about?

First of all, the name is somewhat misleading as it has nothing to do with the traditional Japanese female entertainer. The name comes from Mount Gesha in Ethiopia from where a British consul had collected some seeds of this varietal in 1936. They were brought first brought to Tanzania and then Costa Rica and finally to Panama. 

Geisha Coffee came to Panama from Costa Rica already in the 1960s, but it didn’t catch on at all. Yields were low, and the taste only mediocre. Only in 2004, the guys running Hacienda Esmeralda discovered its real value when they processed the Geisha beans in a separate batch. Finally, a new star was born.

What does it taste like?

True to its historical origin, it tastes very much like Ethiopian coffee. 

The aroma is very intense and floral, and you can discern notes of peach, mango, papaya, lime, jasmine and a finish of bergamot. It has a solid body and well balanced, delicate acidity.

I have tasted many coffees so far, but this one is definitely in another league. Worth trying by all means.


How to brew Panama Geisha coffee for best results


If you invested serious money for the best coffee beans available you want to make sure not to spoil everything by some avoidable mistake.

Probably the best method for brewing this coffee varietal is by pour-over. This way you have the best control over the temperature of the water. The best range would be between 194ºF and 200ºF (90ºC to 93ºC).

As for the grind size, it’s best to choose the setting for regular filter coffee.

Never use a blade grinder for these top quality beans. The grind size will be all over the place and the heat generated by the blades will seriously deteriorate the sensitive flavors. Use a burr grinder by all means. Read more about good coffee grinders in this post.




panama geisha coffee boquete cloud
This is a view of the highlands of the Boquete region around Volcan Baru, home of the Panama Geisha coffee.

The growers in the Boquete region



The main production areas are on the slopes of Volcan Baru in the Boquete region of western Panama. They offer ideal growing conditions as the Geisha varietal loves high altitudes of at least 5,250 ft (1,600 meters) above sea level. And most of the coffee in these estates are shade grown.

Hacienda Esmeralda is the pioneer for Geisha Coffee. But as demand for this fantastic coffee varietal has grown dramatically in recent years, more and more growers in Panama and even in other countries started to jump on the trend. Even in Hawaii, Monarch Coffee began growing Geisha coffee. It will be exciting to see how it will turn out, especially since growing conditions differ greatly from Panama. Another contender is Colombia which is well known for its quality coffee. Colombia Geisha coffee is definitely worth trying as well.

Another prominent grower besides Hacienda Esmeralda is the Lamastus Family Estates. Their beans have won in many competitions and have been fetching record prices at regular auctions as well. Especially their Elida Estate is worth mentioning as it is the highest coffee farm in Panama located between 5,500 and 8,200 ft (1.700 and 2.500m).

Of course, besides these two well-known producers, many more growers are producing a great coffee. You may find some of their products in a local specialty store or on amazon.com, which is an excellent source of coffee beans from around the world as well. 



panama geisha coffee drying

Drying freshly harvested coffee cherries.


Where can you buy Panama Geisha Coffee

If you are lucky, you may find it in a coffee specialty shop near you. In big metropolises like New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, London, Berlin, and others, you may have a chance.

But for the rest of us, there is the possibility of ordering online. 

Both Hacienda Esmeralda and Lamastus Family Estates have online shops.And then there is good old amazon.com which has a good selection in stock as well.

This site uses affiliate links to quality products and reliable vendors. Most of the products I am using myself and therefor can vouch for them.

When you make any purchases thru these links you are helping to support this website at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your kind consideration.


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