Panama Geisha Coffee – most expensive coffee in the world

panama geisha coffee boquete

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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.

My newest update on the 2023 auction you can find here.

panama geisha 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, according to that list, Kopi Luwak makes the top ten list of the most expensive coffees in the world, only in the no. 4 position. Please note this list is compiled by and refers to 2018. If you want to know more about Kopi Luwak, read my post here on this website.

Another poop coffee, Black Ivory Coffee, extracted from elephant shit, is even more expensive and topping the list. 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 to Tanzania, then to Costa Rica, and finally to Panama. 

Geisha Coffee came to Panama from Costa Rica in the 1960s but didn’t catch on. Yields were low, and the taste was 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 intense and floral, and you can discern notes of peach, mango, papaya, lime, jasmine, and a bergamot finish. It has a solid body and well-balanced, delicate acidity.

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


How to brew Panama Geisha Coffee for the best Results

If you invested serious money for the best coffee beans available, you want to ensure you do not 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.

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

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

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 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 fetched record prices at regular auctions. 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 great coffee. You may find some of their products in a local specialty store or on, an excellent coffee bean source from around the world. 

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 which has a good selection in stock as well.


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