What is Geisha coffee (and why is it so expensive)?

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Geisha coffee is known to be one of the best and most expensive coffees in the world. Chances are that if you’re into specialty coffee you’ve come across or heard about this variety in different coffee shops.

But what makes Geisha so great and what does it taste like?

Read on as we take a deep dive into the world of Geisha coffee and cover everything from its history, how is it processed and roasted, and where to buy Geisha in Australia.

What is Geisha coffee?

Geisha (also spelled “Gesha”), is a coffee that originated in Ethiopia but gained its popularity in a Panama coffee competition.

One of the reasons why this coffee is so special is due to the limited supplies, as the plant grows in very specific conditions.

That is why there is intense competition for buying and selling this particular coffee.

Gesha is known for delivering very delicate and distinctive tasting notes such as tea, honey and tropical fruit.

Nowadays, Panama Geisha is one of the most in-demand beans and it is also one of the most expensive in the world.

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What does Geisha taste like?

Geisha coffee is known for its delicate flavours and for having an amazing array of floral aromas, such as jasmine, citrus, honey and bergamot notes. This unique flavour and aroma profile is very hard to find in other coffees.

Smelling a bag of freshly ground geisha beans can be likened to smelling a precious perfume.

The beans are incredibly fruit-forward with notes of mango and cherries. Coffee shops favour this bean for pour-overs thanks to these notes.

At the same time, most roasters lean towards the lighter side of roasting when it comes to this particular coffee in order for the notes to be perceived easily in the cup.

Where does Geisha coffee come from?

Geisha coffee first originated in Ethiopia in the Gori Gesha forest. The plant was exported to Central America, specifically Costa Rica in 1950 for further studying and cultivation at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center.

It later found its way to Panama and the famous Hacienda la Esmeralda specialty coffee company. Hacienda la Esmeralda introduced Panama Geisha coffee to the world in 2004 at the “Best of Panama” coffee auction.

The taste evaluators were blown away by the quality of the bean as well as the unusual lingering aftertaste of jasmine and cherries.

The coffee started becoming very popular, becoming one of the most expensive coffees in the world by 2018 when a single kilo of coffee was sold at $1,420 Australian dollars.

Nowadays, there are a couple of coffee farms in Panama that specialise in growing this popular variety such as the Lamastus Family Estates.

How is Geisha processed?

There are three ways to process Geisha coffee:

  • Washed: The most common processing method. Fresh coffee cherries are moved to a pulling mill where the fruit is separated from the bean. After, the mucilage (a thick layer of cellulose with a sugary substance that surrounds the bean) is removed with water before leaving the beans to dry. Once the coffee is dry then it is ready to roast.
  • Natural: This method is prefered by most consumers and growers but it is also the trickiest to achieve. The coffee cherry is left to dry in the sun for several days and then stored. This method can be easily ruined by heavy rain or insects that are attracted to the fruit.
  • Honey: This method is a combination of the previous two mentioned processes. The coffee cherry es removed from the bean but the mucilage is left intact. This process results in a bean that has a golden colour, a honey-like texture and is often sweeter.

In the three cases, the ripest coffee cherries are always used to ensure a distinct flavour profile.

How are Geisha coffee beans roasted?

The best roast for Geisha coffee is a light roast. A light roast allows the delicate flavours to remain intact until they reach your cup of coffee.

This means that the roasting process will be stopped right after the first crack, which involves temperatures between 210 and 220 degrees.

Can you buy Geisha coffee in Australia?

Yes, you can buy Geisha in Australia.

These beans will most likely be sold at a specialty coffee shop but you can also buy them online with local roasters such as Gesha Coffee Co and Single O.

FAQ

Is Geisha coffee the most expensive?

Yes, Geisha coffee is considered the most expensive coffee bean on the market. The high price tag is due to a couple of factors, one of them being that Geisha requires unique cultivating conditions such as very high altitude. Due to the plant structure, the number of beans that a Geisha plant can produce is significantly less than other coffee varieties which makes it hard to meet the huge demand. Another factor that contributes to the price is the high scores that Geisha coffee has continuously received from the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association). The coffee beans have repeatedly received scores of over 90 points, something only a handful of coffees receive. These factors combine to make Geisha one of the most expensive coffees.

Is Geisha Arabica or Robusta?

Geisha coffee comes from the Arabica family. It is a variety that originated in Ethiopia in the Gori Gesha forest.

Does Geisha coffee have more caffeine?

No. Geisha coffee beans actually have about 30% less caffeine content than other coffees from the Arabica family.