Panama Geisha

There is a book written about Geisha coffee, I think. Something about God in a cup. Never read it. But the Geisha varietal made waves in the coffee industry as far as I could tell. Something set this coffee apart from the others, and when I was given a bag as a gift, I will have to admit being excited to get to know what Geisha was all about.

But it was not all that easy to see the difference. The Geisha does not emit golden rays of light. It wasn’t even that easy to brew with. This coffee from the Hacienda La Esmeralda farm (I have heard of it on a podcast so I guess its well known enough) in Panama has a larger, Pacamara-sized bean. To figure out what made this Geisha great, if it was going to be called great and “ the stuff of legends,” I had think about it a little bit.

Some days at work to keep the software magic flowing, I walk over to the office coffee machine to make some coffee. I drink it for the caffeine. Enough said. That coffee experience is very similar to what coffee has been for the United States for a very long time. Companies like Folgers found ways to make a product as exotic as coffee was in the early 1900’s into a commodity. With good and bad socioeconomic impacts, coffee was made accessible to people in the US. The coffee was made shelf stable and roasted in a way that it could not be screwed up in the brewing process. They created the way coffee was supposed to taste at the same time making it making it economically feasible to produce with massive economies of scale.

But for awhile now coffee has evolved as an industry a couple of times. Some say its in its 4th wave. Geisha has been deemed to crowning jewel for quality, and after running through a bag I have developed an opinion on it.

I have had a lot of good coffee. Probably more good coffee than bad coffee. I know what coffee I like. I like juicy, fruity, heavy-bodied, full coffees. This is in contrast to crisp,clear, floral, balanced, tea-like coffees. Both are great, but I would choose a fruity natural all day everyday. But this La Colombe-roasted, Jaramillo Geisha strikes a balance between the two profiles all the while maintaining a clear, crisp and tea-like flavor while also being fruity (lots of orange) and juicy. If I were to personify this little guy, I would say he knows himself and is fully comfortable in his own skin. What is so cool about this coffee is it smells as if you were peeling an orange with your hands. Its flavor is perfectly balanced and consistent all the way through. One characteristic does not standout amongst the others. Everything just sits nicely in its places with clarity and confidence.

I don’t know a thing about diving, except that its fun to watch in the Olympics. But I do notice that the divers doing the coolest flips are not the ones getting the highest score everytime. The divers that win are the ones performing with mechanical precision, an amazing feat for the human body. So I guess this coffee is something like those divers.

I think that is why these coffees are so special. They show how things have progressed. They show how we are better understanding the plants producing this fruit. They represent growth and the future the industry can get excited about. This coffee, when sitting next to the coffee that sputters out of the machine the office, show what coffee can actually been when each step of the production chain is going some freaking good work.

Or something like that…

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