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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.