For years now I have held a deep routed concern regarding the geisha coffee varietal and its rising popularity. I think there can be no question that the emergence of geisha in the specialty community is one of the largest phenomenon’s I have witnessed in my short time of being involved in this coffee thing.
For those who don’t know in 2005 this special coffee called La Esmerelda burst on to the scene. Since then it has won every competition it has entered and received some critical acclaim from some for the biggest names in the coffee industry. The “special lot” that got all this attention was from a very small part of the farm where this heirloom varietal called geisha. Now geisha only grows well in certain condition (that hacienda la esmeralda has) but is a tough one to grow in most conditions. I have been lucky enough to try this coffee each year and can say I have really enjoyed it, its very special coffee.
I have been banging a drum ever since this coffee arrived, worrying about the message we send to the farmers by paying this high price for a varietal without discussing why we like it so, and without sending a warning.
The farmer sees this coffee getting 100 times the market price and wants some of that action.
So plant stock has been ripped out and geisha planted in some places where it should not be. I expect to see some very average coffee coming through with big claims and big prices that falls very flat on the cupping table. To take out plants and wait four years for a yield from a new varietal is an expensive and dangerous thing to do and quite rightly people will expect huge rewards for doing so.
This week I’ve had my first sample hit my cupping table from the first real year we can expect coffee post hacienda la esmeralda. And as expected big claims and a HUGE price were thrown at me, and I was rather worried about it. But ohhh my, my world has been rocked. This coffee that will be the next in my mug and I’ll keep some powder dry until then, but this coffee is amazing, and its making me re evaluate the whole impact that hacienda la esmeralda may have on the specialty industry.
I still believe we will see some awful geisha that will be truly horid, just as I’ve seen some terrible varietals. But this shows there will be some gems coming through that were unexpected.
I think the moral of this story is that the right varietal for the right conditions then you can have a magical combination. But its not a one fits all option.
I think this one works because of the high altitude and great management of thew farm its from. Geisha seems to love the altitude and this one is 1700- 1900 meters (as high as you dare go) and a farm with a great history. Also careful planting on only this part of the farm.
Will be on the site Monday for all those not subscribed to In My Mug but for a lot of money.