Is Geisha coffee the best in the world?
Sometimes you hear about a cup of coffee in the news that cost +100USD (Yes, you read it correctly!) and that’s a coffee called Geisha coffee. Actually, it should be called Gesha, but that we will get in later in the article.
- What makes these coffee beans so special?
- How does it differ from other hype products like Kopi Luwak or Blue Mountain?
- A pound of geisha is expensive. Very expensive. What justifies this price?
I could come up with “objective” arguments like the incredibly high cupping scores.
I could also explain why Geisha coffee tastes like no other bean – and that this is due to the homemade quality.
I don’t like my espresso or my advisors in such an undifferentiated way.
So I prefer to explain where geisha comes from and why a lot of the hype is based on a well-told story.
I will also prepare geisha and describe my taste impressions.
What you do with this knowledge is up to you, as always.
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Geisha coffee has nothing to do with japan!
Under #geishacoffee you can find a picture on Instagram that perfectly sums up the confusion surrounding this type of coffee:
A Latin American man is standing in front of three Asian women dressed up as geishas, each holding a cup of cappuccino into the camera under a sign saying “Panama Geisha” stands.
What is wrong with this picture?
Even the term geisha is incorrect.
The type of coffee is actually called “Gesha”.
It was named after an Ethiopian village or mountain where the plant was first identified and where it still grows wild today.
But because the discoverers of this variety were ignorant colonialists, they added the ‘i’.
The name probably reminded them of lovely Meiko’s in the Hanamachi.
Because geisha sounds a bit nicer than Gesha anyway, the name established itself from then on.
However, for a long time, no rooster crowed for it.
Under whatever name.
Especially not in Ethiopia, the motherland of coffee, the third wave and the fresh and flowery variety.
From a botanical point of view, geisha is still Ethiopian like anything else.
On the family tree, the type of coffee sits directly behind the main branch to Arabica and the classification of Ethiopian characteristics.
In other words, it was there before anyone had the idea of crossing varieties.
Like all other types of coffee, geisha spread around the world.
If only for research or hybridization purposes, hardly relevant for global coffee production.
So she came to Central America – and to a plantation in Panama.
And here is the real cradle of hype.
Panama is wedged between Costa Rica and Colombia, two coffee superpowers with a very spicy profile.
Panama, on the other hand, hardly had a face. Until Geisha got coffee.
According to the story, the Peterson family of coffee farmers from the Hacienda La Esmeralda discovered a bed of coffee plants in a corner of their plantation, which stood up to the then angry coffee rust.
Coffee rust is a fungus that not only wipes out entire harvests but also existences.
A rust-stricken plantation is sentenced to death.
The brave geisha plants, however, flourished cheerfully.
So the Petersons had no choice but to study this strain.
So … exclusive!
The farm was saved, Panama became the geisha epicentre, saplings and seeds suddenly became coveted commodities from Colombia to Peru.
I know the tone in which I am telling this.
But there is also a reason for the price:
Apart from the rarity of geisha coffee so far, the sexy Origin story has ensured with plenty of pathos that geisha coffee costs what it costs:
In 2019, two bags of £ 100 geisha sold at the Panama Coffee Auction for $ 1,029.
That makes $ 102,900 in total.
The prices for 2021 have not yet been published.
Even if higher coffee prices would be a blessing for the entire value chain, this fabulous number only applies to a single variety and is speculatively inflated because of the demand for geisha in Asia (true story!).
Other, “more modest” varieties have none of this.
Back to the picture for a moment:
Probably the biggest mistake in the photo is the three cappuccinos.
Who would come up with the idea of mixing their super beans with a unique flavor with milk?
If it goes according to the scene – none.
How do I make Geisha coffee?
Like any variety, geisha could just as easily be roasted with espresso as with filter coffee.
You can also prepare it in any way.
Nevertheless, it is almost logical not to hide the sweet-flowery profile under roasted arias, but to strive for a light filter roast.
But certainly not for the Melitta machine!
Anyone who spends so much money grabs their best hand filter, takes the best filter bags, filtered water, the coffee scales and EVERYTHING that is otherwise so nicely draped on the coffee shelf.
If pressure is built up at all in the preparation of geisha coffee, it is only with you.
Expensive beans should be cooked carefully and with love.
Reject due to incorrect grinding degree setting or inaccurate water temperature would be a capital crime.
However, this is the pressure that is largely dictated by hype and price.
Because the taste also comes into play if you don’t do everything right down to the last crumb.
Nevertheless, you should stick to the most important hand filter parameters:
- Medium fine grind
- Brew ratio about 7 grams of coffee per 100 ml of water (I like it a lot)
- Water temperature of 96 degrees Celsius
- Blooming phase
- Slow, circular infusion
How does geisha coffee taste?
The pre-ground coffee only needs to be hung in its pre-portioned filter with a cardboard holder in a cup and poured with hot water.
The process is very similar to brewing a cup of tea actually..
Then you can even enjoy geisha around the campfire. Who needs anything else.
The fragrances mango, passion fruit and honey are called for the Sonora Geisha.
Other geisha roasts may vary in fruit and floral notes, but they too emphasize the unlikely sweetness.
And yes, this interaction is awesome.
As soon as you open the package, you can smell things that you would otherwise hardly smell from a bean package.
Indeed, the fragrance profile could hardly be further removed from “coffee” in the classic sense.
It is slightly reminiscent of flavored tea – but in the natural, ingenious way.
The whole thing becomes three times more intense as soon as you have chased the beans through the coffee grinder.
Taste & acidity
The “dominant” notes are clearly reminiscent of very round, soft black tea, although there can be no question of dominance.
Everything is tender and tender, the slight hint of freshness works great.
Coffee flavors are still present – especially if you have trained on East African coffee beans.
The Ethiopian homeland of the coffee plant is reflected in the taste – even if it is grown on a farm in Panama or if its accent sounds Peruvian.
In this context, I even have to admit that the finished filter portion of Don Martin Geisha Enano is in no way inferior to the fresh beans from the calendar can.
I say yes:
Geisha can do something even if you don’t follow all the guidelines for good coffee.
Even if the beans are not ground super fresh.
Body & finish
There is no trace of oomph or power at Geisha Coffee.
Elegant loveliness is all that matters here.
I think you get the full beauty of this strain, especially in the epilogue.
The finish is long, full of flavors and really as special as everyone always claims.
These impressions, completely without bitter substances and classic chocolate notes, may leave beginners a little perplexed.
But geisha isn’t a beginner’s coffee either.
Geisha coffee is specialty coffee ...
The coffee world is more diverse and exciting than ever.
From this perspective, geisha coffee is just one variety of many.
However, one that stands out from the crowd because of its price.
This is due to a hype that I can’t take seriously again.
Rather, I claim that a geisha coffee will find buyers at the requested price even if it is not characterized by a special commitment to coffee value creation or by skilful roasting.
It is enough that it exists.
Geisha thus also represents the “dark side” of speciality coffee: inflated prices meet undifferentiated trend factors.
On the other hand, Geisha has decisive advantages over other super special beans – such as the animal cruel product Kopi Luwak :
The quality is (still) excellent.
The coffee farmers make an effort, the plants are grown with care.
With this variety, there can be no question of mass-produced goods.
But as soon as geisha finds its way into the mainstream – and that will inevitably happen – it should be over.
You can buy geisha in the Tchibo Cafe around the corner, big chains have the expensive coffee grown themselves, this special variety goes the same way as any good coffee.
My point is?
“Special” coffee has nothing to do with the name or a special variety of coffee.
It might come from Ethiopia or Costa Rica, or it might come from Vietnam.
The coffee plantation can be large or small.
Quality is not defined by price. Or about the story behind it, but rather by your perception, and your individual experience when you drink it.