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Throwback: COTW - Hacienda La Esmeralda Mario Carnaval Geisha
Throwback to the first coffee that changed my world
This is a repost from 2013 - a part of my slow but steady migration of the lost posts of The Magic Roast over to Substack.
While you’re here, Buy me a coffee! It’s an easy way to support The Magic Roast - a blog that reposts old content instead of writing new stuff. JK.
Coffee of the week - Hacienda La Esmeralda Mario Carnaval Geisha
Coffee Supreme has recently had a truly spectacular coffee. They call it the Esmeralda Special. It retailed for $100/kg of beans and $15 a cup in the cafe.
It is the best coffee ever....
This particular coffee is a variety called the Geisha/Gesha. It has a reputation for being one of the worlds best coffees and is known all around the world as a truly great coffee experience.
I had to try some, and luckily for me I was able to get my hands on 400g of the stuff.
So what is the fuss all about?
Well, firstly, a quick coffee bean variety lesson...
Beans, beans, beans
There are two main types of coffee bean. The Robusta and the Arabica. You may have heard about the Arabica. You'll often seen it referred to on the packaging of cheap/instant coffee - "100% Arabica Beans" - or something to that effect. Now given that 70% of the world's coffee is Arabica, that statement is as good as getting an orange juice with 100% oranges on it. Its generic, doesn't actually tell you what you're drinking and overall not that useful...
Each of the Robusta and Arabica types have many sub-types or varietals. This is nothing different to any type of farmed produce. For example you can have apples as a main name for a fruit, but then you can get Royal Gala apples, and Pacific Rose apples etc etc. Each type has its own look, taste and texture. Same goes for coffee.
So the Geisha bean is a varietal of the Arabica bean. But what makes the Geisha so special?
The story goes that the Geisha was a magical mystical coffee tree that was originally discovered in Ethiopia in the 1930s. It was planted as an experimental crop in a few African countries, but it appears that either the conditions weren't right or the farmers didn't know what they had, so it was largely forgotten about.
Some seeds made their way over to Panama in the 1950s where it was again mis-managed and produced a crap coffee. The farmers again gave up on it and for decades it was ignored.
The seeds made their way to the ideal spot on the ideal farm, at the ideal altitude and the ideal temperature, some time in the intervening decades and it was 're-discovered' by a farmer (probably now super freakin rich) in the 2000s.
In 2004 the farmer picked his beans and sent it in to get cupped - basically to get assessed by professional coffee tasters. Turns out the tasters scored the coffee super high - like 94 out of 100 - which compared to other coffees, put it at the top as one of the best tasting in the world!
Since then, it has gone gang busters, regularly selling for $100-$150 US a kg in coffee auctions (where roasters go to buy beans to roast and sell... check out the 2013 Geisha auction here: http://auction.stoneworks.com/ES2013/final_results.html)
The Geisha is super expensive because it is 1) super tasty 2) pretty rare due to the temperamental nature of the plant (so it will only grow in the most ideal set of conditions - namely Panama) and 3) doesn't produce a lot of fruit (supply/demand curves and all of that great Econ 101 stuff....)
I had heard the story of the famed Geisha a long time ago. Due to its price and availability I pretty much concluded that I'd never get to taste it. BUT - Coffee Supreme got their hands on some, for the third year in a row, from the Hacienda La Esmeralda series of farms in Panama. They reckoned it all these crazy tastes like cocoa, jasmine, god himself etc but how did it taste to me?
Get in me
I am a noob right - not a professional taster - with a pretty average pallet - and not much imagination... So what did it taste like????
It wasn't jasmine I could pick up. It was a little bit of cocoa. But the main thing I could taste??
No lies - it tasted like a hot cup of apricot pie, short crust pastry and all.
It was amazing - the best tasting coffee ever (lucky I like apricots).
And the flavour lasted for ages - I usually rocked it before work, but was then so amazed by the taste I didn't want to eat or drink anything else all day.
I have 250grams of this coffee left. It was roasted seven days ago and hasn't been touched. I am saving it for a friend. But he better be quick - I need another hit of that apricot pie!
So if you are out in the world and see a Geisha on sale - go try it. At all costs. It will be worth it.