Geisha, the coffee varietal that has changed the way the popular press talk about specialty coffee. Changed because it stopped them talking about animal shit coffee, and talked about this uber expensive coffee that tasted amazing. This has to be applauded.
Springing to the fore in 2004 in the Best of Panama auction, the world went mad for Geisha, and the Price Peterson's went on to build one of the strongest farm brands in the world of specialty coffee, and reaching A whopping $350.25 per pound at the 2013 Best of Panama Auction. The coffee world has gone mad for Geisha and its a real positive for our industry, but I hate it.
I hate it because I dislike what its done to the industry and the consumer. Geisha needs a certain amount of altitude (over 1600 meters above sea level in my opinion) and such tight weather and soil conditions to thrive. What happened in Esmerelda is a unique set of circumstances, the perfect storm, something that has proved very hard to repeat.
I have seen farmers plant Geisha and wonder why the door has not been beaten down with huge cheques to take their “Geisha”. I’ve also seen farmers (in Costa Rica) who bought what they thought was geisha seed only to see that they have ended up with a low yielding plant that doesn’t have the special characteristics they expected.
And then there is the consumer who expected this crazy expensive delicious cup that lacks sweetness and body and tastes nothing like their expectations of coffee. We confuse them and miss their needs as a customer.
But as I sit here and write to you with a delicious Chemed brewed mug of Geisha, I have to tell you, I love (and hate) this delicious coffee.
Stephen Leighton is Managing Director of Has Bean