A benefit of contributing coffee content to the Craft Beverage Jobs blog is the opportunity to expand my knowledge of coffee around the world. One of the most exciting coffee’s that I’ve been introduced too recently is Geisha coffee.
This unique aromatic coffee burst onto the coffee scene in 2004 when it was entered in a Panama coffee tasting competition. The judges were blown away and Geisha (sometimes Gesha) quickly became a highly sought after coffee. Personally, I can say that it’s one of the most memorable and enjoyable coffee experiences I’ve had.
Origins of Geisha
While Geisha coffee is associated with Panama, its origins are Ethiopian. It’s believed that the exact location of the Geisha varietal’s origin is an Ethiopian forest that was spared from the deforestation efforts of the area. In the 1930’s, an expedition traveled to West Ethiopia in search of coffee trees resistant to the diseases plaguing the market at that time. It was this expedition that discovered Geisha coffee trees growing in a small forest near the town of Gesha. It’s believed the origin of Geisha (Gesha) can be traced to these trees.
In the early 1950’s, Geisha seeds made their way across the Atlantic to Costa Rica and ultimately to Panama (Coffee In Panama) by the next decade. Initially the trees introduced to the Panamanian coffee farms were grown at a low altitude and produced a poor quality coffee. With such a poor introduction, the remaining Geisha producing trees were absorbed into the rest of the coffee harvests and lost their unique aromatic identity.
In 2004, everything changed when with the rediscovery of Geisha, the trees were planted at a much higher altitude and the amazing Geisha flavors were re-born. The result was the award winning Geisha coffee that enthusiasts around the world know and love.
What Makes Geisha Coffee So Special?
From the tree to the bean, Geisha is unlike any other coffee you’ve probably seen. The tree itself resembles the shape of a Christmas tree and produces elongated beans. Because it is grown at higher altitudes, harvesting these rare beans is difficult, making their availability limited. Geisha coffee is known for its floral and fruity aromatic characteristics. Here is the description from Coffee Review Magazine:
Blind Assessment: Intense, juicy, massively complex. Honey, mango, grapefruit, bakers’ chocolate, tea rose, much more in aroma and cup. Big, sweetly tart acidity; full, syrupy mouth-feel. In the finish flavor consolidates but rings on, gentle, layered, resonant.
I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to the folks at Panama Coffee Gold Reserve, who very kindly sent me a sample of their Auromar Panama Geisha Coffee for a review. (I received no compensation for the review.) A single origin coffee produced by coffee farmer Roberto Brenes from Panama’s Auromar Estate, it was the Best of Panama winner in both 2013 and 2014. At an altitude of 5,200 feet, the Auromar Estate is the perfect environment for growing quality Geisha coffee.
Tasting Geisha Coffee For The First Time
Wanting to share my 8 oz bag of Auromar Gesha Estate coffee with friends, I brought it along to a dinner party of fellow coffee lovers. (We are not professional coffee tasters.) This would be the first cup of Geisha coffee for all of us.
With everyone standing by, I read aloud the literature provided on the characteristics of Geisha and then proceeded to open the bag of medium roast beans. The sweet, floral aroma filled the dining room, surpassing everyone’s exceptions. While grinding the beans, we all commented on the accuracy of the description. “Sweet”, “fruity”, “tangy”, and “floral” were just a few of the adjectives shared among the dinner guests.
If it tastes half as good as it smells, we are in for a treat!
We decided that the French Press would be the best way to try Geisha for the first time. We were not disappointed, the aroma carried through to the flavor. To say the least, it received rave reviews all around. I particularly enjoyed the sweetness and tartness that lingered through to the after taste.
A special thanks to the folks at Panama Coffee Gold Reserve for treating us to an amazing coffee experience! If you would like to experience Panama Geisha Coffee for yourself, visit PCGR’s product page for details.
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