What is Gesha (Geisha)?

Not many coffees have shaken the world of specialty in the last few years more than any variety and maybe any innovation other than coffee TikTok. Its' name is confusing, its' flavors are out right sacrilegious and yet it reunited with its long time enemy... tea. A namely coincidence brings us in Eastern Asia where tea has been an art for centuries and even millennia in some places. And if there is something snobbish coffee people like, is to call our our addiction an art. More than that though, when Gesha came to prominence in 2004, the Asian coffee market was really starting to boom. Importers were looking for new products to satisfy their market , and like a perfect storm Gesha met Japan, Korea and Taiwan. And to this day hacienda la Esmeralda ships 80% to their coffees to Asia. And they happily connect this market to the similarities in profile between Gesha coffee and tea.

I think that "tea-like is probably the most common description of Gesha probably followed by flowery and lemon grass. I strangely always associate the flavor of Gesha with Hibiscus tea because I used to brew very coarse tea with whole flowers when I was younger. But nobody agrees with me. Geshas are indeed very floral and sometimes can fall in the "grassy" category which is not always pleasant.

You also have to watch out for the type of Gesha you are getting. Not all Geshas are made equal. We were talking to Milton Monroy who told us that back in the early 10's he was looking for Gesha in Colombia and there was only one seller who would sellf 1 kilo of seeds for 1 million peso which he thought was too much. So he got a friend to bring him some seeds directly from Panama. He told us at the end the discount was not worth the hassle, he paid around 700,000 pesos. But there was an unepxted surprise. If you know anything about Milton Monroy is that he has one of the best coffees in the world he even got an international prize for it. And he attributes part of this success to his Gesha being different from the 90% of farmers who bought their seeds from the first dealer.

But his success comes from his delicate and careful treatment of the plant. Every good Gesha grower will tell you that their success comes from the unique climate of their farm and the love and attention they put into growing each plant.

The history of Gesha (Geisha)

Origins: From Ethiopia to Panama

The journey of Geisha coffee began in the 1930s when it was first discovered in the Gori Gesha forest of Ethiopia. Enchanted by its unique characteristics, coffee collectors brought these precious seeds to Panama in the 1960s, where they found a new home in the rich volcanic soils of Boquete.

Geisha coffee's rise to fame began in 2004 when Hacienda la Esmeralda, with its Geisha won the Best of Panama coffee competition. Its exceptional quality and unique flavor profile caught the attention of specialty coffee enthusiasts worldwide.
Today, Geisha coffee is one of the most sought-after and expensive
coffees in the world. It has repeatedly broken records for the highest prices paid for coffee at auction, reaching up 10,005$ per kilo in 2023 for a coffee by Carmen Estate.

Sources (where all our knowledge comes from)

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDZ1NjlUZ7o&pp=ygULY2FmZSBwYW5hbWE%3D
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9826037/
  • https://stir-tea-coffee.com/tea-coffee-news/panamanian-geisha-wins-record-high-price-of-10-005-per-kilog/