Hacienda Esmeralda Gesha
Suggested Listening: Jumbo - Underworld
The story of the Panamanian farm Hacienda Esmeralda and the now world famous Gesha varietal of coffee is one of hardship and brilliant triumph. In the 1990s, the Peterson family observed a patch of their farmland at Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama become afflicted with leaf rust, or “la roya” as its also called. A type of fungus that coats leaves and restricts the level of photosynthesis that can be achieved and results in a slow death of the plant.
In an effort to recoup the damages done to the bourbon/typica varietals initially lost to the fungus, the Petersons made a critical decision. They had noticed a spindly long stemmed tree that seemed to be able to withstand La Roya better than others. That tree was the Gesha varietal coffee plant and little was known about it back then other than it seemed strong and resilient. In the eleventh hour the Petersons decided to plant Gesha trees in the previously rust-stricken plots of land. This call to plant these ancient Ethiopian varietals in both the higher elevation and rust stricken zones of their farms coupled with the development of a brand new wet mill to enhance the processing of their coffees, resulted in a coffee that took the world by storm in the early 2000s. Prior to 2004 it was unheard of to hear of coffees exceeding $5 per pound green. At the best of Panama 2004 Esmeraldas washed Gesha sold for $21 per pound. 17 years on from that ground breaking price we are now seeing Geshas from Panama sell at an eye watering eyeing $2000 + per pound green.
Gesha has become the holy grail for coffee connoisseurs, and Panama its preferred country of origin for its growth. It is a unique country for growing coffee, a thin land mass enables it to catch two trade winds from two different ocean/seas. Aided by the rich, volcanic soil, the expertise of the Peterson family and their staff, the Gesha coffee varietal made a name for itself in the industry for unmatched flavor complexity.
Blossoming with intense, floral sweetness in both the nose and palate, the lushness of this cup is balanced elegantly with a distinct citrus pop of acidity. The rich florals come through tea-like and are followed by wonderfully sweet notes of ripe mango and papaya. Despite this offering being a washed process bean the mouthfeel is luxurious. The whole experience of Gesha coffee is transcendental.
The pour over manual brew method is our suggested go to for this. The blooming of the grounds is worth this brew method choice alone as it unleashes an exquisite bouquet of Jasmine and dewy citrus blossom, the resulting brew an unrivaled balance of fleshy stone fruit sweetness and florality.
There is coffee. And then there is Gesha coffee. Jumbo levels of complexity.