Coffee Varieties: Gesha

We have written quite a bit about Panama mountain grown organic coffee. This is the first time we have mentioned Gesha coffee, a gourmet variety grown in the highlands of Chiriquí Province in the west of the country. Panama is the last Central American country before you get to Colombia (South America). Once part of Gran Colombia, the Panama has a climate along its mountainous spine similar to the much larger Eje Cafetero in Colombia. It is in the coffee growing region of Panama near the town of Boquete that planters grew a left rust resistant Ethiopian coffee variety. Gesha gets its name from the Ethiopian village where it was first found. Planters tried Gesha in the 1950s but it was when the variety was resurrected in the early 2000s that its quality was first noted. Today Gesha coffee sells for as much as $35,000 for a 100 pound bag at auction! Considering that standard green coffee sells for a couple of dollars a pound, the Gesha coffee variety is in the stratosphere.

About the Gesha Coffee Variety

Gesha is an heirloom varietal. The seed stock is extremely pure. It has not been cross bred or altered. It is a faithful replica of the original seed stock from around Gesha, Ethiopia. The plant was tried in Central America in the 1950s because of its disease resistance. However, it only grows above 3,000 feet and is rather low yielding. It is said that because Gesha plant grows fewer berries it puts more flavor into each one. Many growers gave up on Gesha until companies like Starbucks raised public awareness of high quality coffees.

Where Can You Find the Gesha Coffee Variety?

Hacienda la Esmeralda is a coffee farm in Panama famous for its small plots of Gesha coffee. However, the Gesha coffee variety is also grown in selected locations in Honduras, Costa Rica and Colombia. An unique Gesha variety is called Santuario and sells typically for about $80 a pound.

What Does Gesha Taste Like?

Rather than the chocolate and mellow-but-crisp acidity that great coffees from Panama typically express, Gesha are more delicate and intensely floral showing their relationship to the heirloom Ethiopian variety from which it descended. Jasmine or orange blossom, sweet clover honey, lightly toasted green tea are typical tastes of a high end Gesha variety.

Organic or Not

Gesha is still disease resistant coffee variety that requires fewer chemicals to maintain its health. As such many Gesha coffees are as-good-as-organic without the organic coffee label.

$11 a Cup

The Coloradoan asks, what does an $11 cup of coffee taste like when reviewing the Gesha coffee variety.

It sells for $88 a pound to the retailers who can get their hands on it and $11 a cup to those of us curious enough to try it.

“God in a cup,” some have said of the roasted and brewed bean, worshiped for its soft taste and incredibly floral aroma.

And the taste is like tea – sweet jasmine, then crisp bergamot, also a hint of graham cracker.

And, connoisseurs will be livid if you add any cream, sugar or liqueur to this exotic albeit expensive coffee variety.


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