Geisha is a very rare and hard to grow varietal of Arabica Coffee. It is sought after for its distinct floral bouquet and delicate flavour.
The variety was announced/discovered to the world at The best of Panama Auction in 2004. Hacienda La Esmeralda presented a coffee which unique characteristics amazed the judges. One of the Judges present, Willem Boot, scored it a 96 and started a personal quest to uncover the secrets of the variety.
The Variety originally came from the Western province of Ethiopia, where it journeyed through Tanzania, Kenya, Costa Rica, and finally to Panama. It is an extremely tall tree with elongated leaves and cherries. It was often used for wind breaks in Panama before local farmers discovered its hidden secret.
The Geisha plant is very sensitive to altitude, and the distinct character is not present at altitudes that are too low. The plant is also extremely sensitive to sunlight, and at high altitudes that it likes, there is plenty of sun.
Following the Auction in 2004, the farm manager told a reporter that they would guard the seeds so that no other producers could grow the precious crop outside of Panama. Little did he know that within a week, Willem Boot and Ted Lingle were already tracing its history and finding plants in Costa Rica. This would eventually lead them to Ethiopia where after several attempts and years, they would find the wild plants in the lush forests near the town of Gesha.
Geisha has been gaining in popularity for the last 10 years and at one stage prices skyrocketed to over $150 per pound. Thankfully they are now at a more sustainable $20-$50 per pound so that we can all enjoy them.
In Peru, we discovered a farm with Geisha planted on three different lots. The two lots at 1750m and 1800m were aromatic with jasmine, rose, and minty flavours, whereas the lot at 1500m was juicy and tropical with intense sweetness. While we were unable to buy any this year, I am endeavouring to buy the Peru Geisha next year making us the first coffee roaster to get our hands of Peruvian Geisha, if it can happen.
Many farmers have been experimenting with growing and processing of the variety and we are seeing altitudes of 1500m to 2000m being offered, as well as all three processing methods. A washed Geisha will present a luscious, ripe papaya and passion fruit flavours, while the honey variant is sweeter with more body and the natural features a refreshing, minty acidity with a mild fruity flavour. Of course, my favourite is the natural, but we are offering as much variety as possible hence the name......Geisha Collection.
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