All about Panamanian Geisha coffee

If you are a little bit into the world of coffee, you will know that there are certain productions or origins that are inevitably placed among the best coffees in the world or are always classified as speciality coffees.

We have already seen some examples on our website, and today we are going to talk about one of the most renowned: the Geisha coffee.

The secrets of Geisha coffee lie mainly in very specific and precise conditions that only occur in very localised regions.

It is not for nothing that we usually refer to it as highland Geisha coffee (you can read more about highland coffees here).

In this article, we are going to find out what Geisha coffee is, what are the reasons for its excellence and of course, if you want to taste it, where and how you can buy it.

What is Geisha coffee?

It would not be easy to explain what is meant by Geisha coffee to a person who is new or inexperienced in the matter. Strictly speaking, Geisha (or Gesha) is a variety of coffee plants.

It exists in almost all of Central America. In countries like Brazil, Costa Rica or Colombia, they grow Geisha coffee. But it is the harvests in Panama that reach the highest levels of excellence and cover almost the entire production of highland Geisha coffee worldwide.

Where is Geisha coffee produced? Well, at first, the term Geisha may make our imagination fly to Japan or oriental lands, but surprisingly Geisha coffee is from Panama.

Although we should also point out that this name is also given to some crops and varieties that share very similar characteristics (although they do not have the same genetics) as the Geisha coffee from Panama.

The origin of Geisha coffee, however, is not to be found in Panama but in Ethiopia, the country where the first harvests of this variety were harvested in the 1930s.

It was not until 1960 that it began to be widely distributed in Panama, once its effective resistance to some diseases and pests such as coffee rust was proven. From then on, and with special strength since 2005, the fame and cupping ratings of coffees from Geisha plants began to rise like wildfire.

How is Panamanian Geisha coffee grown?

The “secret” (so to speak) of the predominance of Panamanian Geisha coffee compared to other countries where this variety is cultivated to be found in the geography and climate.

In Panama, Geisha coffee plantations are grown in the highlands (very high) of the province of Chiriqui, which borders Costa Rica and is practically surrounded by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The plants are grown at high altitudes (over 1600 metres) and develop in a very closed, cold and rainy climate, often with fog, which is unusual in Central America.

What is the consequence of these peculiar conditions? Geisha coffee beans in Panama ripen much slower than usual. So they get flavours and nuances from the plant that are not achieved in other regions, even though the coffee plants share the same genetics.

The flavour of Geisha coffee, among many other virtues, is quite strong and intense, without losing its sweetness. It has floral, citrus and fruity notes… including jasmine, peach and pear.

How to prepare Geisha coffee correctly?

Now that we know what Geisha coffee is like in the mouth, it is time to start preparing it. The first impulse, and what is used in many tastings, is always to make espresso, for which we need to grind the Geisha beans quite finely.

However, if you have experience with these methods, you can also get excellent results using pour-over coffee makers, such as the Chemex, the Kalita or the Hario V60.

However, we only recommend them for really experienced baristas. Otherwise, the results will not be good; first, they are techniques that require a certain learning curve… and there is no question of using the beans of one of the most expensive coffees in the world as guinea pigs for our tests and training.

Geisha coffee: Approximate price

Why is Geisha coffee so expensive? There is an obvious first reason, which is its quality. It is one of the best coffees in the world, and this is inexcusably reflected in its price.

However, there is a second, more opaque reason for the end consumer, and that is the high price that has been paid since around 2005 at harvest auctions… a kind of boom that knows no end and that has broken several records to the point of paying figures of between 800$ and 1,000$ for a pound (454 grams) of this coffee at origin.

Where can you buy Geisha coffee?

It’s not easy to find out where Geisha coffee is sold in your city, and chances are you won’t find it anywhere. If you have speciality coffee shops or gourmet establishments nearby, it doesn’t hurt to ask them if they can get it for you.

For the public who do not live near a big city and do not have any of these establishments at hand, the most immediate thing to do is to buy Geisha coffee on Amazon.

There is not a huge stock, but we can find some brands to choose from, and yes, at the price of gold, of course. They are usually sold in very small packages of little more than 200 grams each.

Related: Why does my Chemex coffee take so long?