Pile of red cherry Arabica coffee beans during the harvest in the mountains of Panama, central America
Food - Drink
What Makes Panama's Geisha Coffee Unique (& Why Is It So Expensive)?
What is Geisha Coffee?
Panama's geisha coffee is considered one of the best in the world, with an aromatic, almost tea-like flavor. Geisha coffee comes from an Arabica hybrid subspecies, which grows at altitudes over 5,000 feet in Panamanian highlands and is difficult to cultivate, making these beans a rarity that can fetch up to $2,500 per pound.
Its History
In 1936 a British captain isolated a coffee bean in Gesha, Ethiopia and exported the seeds to Central America. The coffee came to be known as geisha coffee, and it received little attention until the farm Hacienda la Esmeralda isolated the beans and grew them at higher altitudes, resulting in an elegant and unique flavor.
Its Flavor
Due to its origins and careful production techniques, geisha coffee exhibits a light body accompanied by highly aromatic flavor notes like jasmine, tart fruits, papaya, mango, berries, and oranges, followed by a bergamot aftertaste. The coffee is best when made with a French press or pour-over and enjoyed simply.
While geisha coffee has many hallmarks, factors like growing location, processing, and roasting can impact the beans’ final flavor. Like wine, geisha coffee relies on terroir, or the natural environment in which it is grown, so even differences like when the coffee is picked, its soil, and the season can affect the resulting cup.