Few things in the world of specialty coffee are as mesmerizing as the rise of the gesha variety. No other variety has had such an impact in the last couple of decades within the craft and upscale microlot farming as has this Heirloom from the birthplace of coffee.
The variety is known as ‘geisha’ or ‘gesha’ due to it’s birthplace in the Ethiopian town of Gesha. Though the variety hails from Western Ethiopia’s garden-like genome of possibilities, in many ways, Panama deserves much of the credit in announcing what this coffee can produce in its wide spectrum of flavors. Flavors of tangerine, bergamot, lemongrass, clover honey, green grape, pineapple, peach, nectarine, rose hip, jasmine and lavender…and the list of descriptors could keep on going.
Without Panama’s pioneers, Don Pachi Serracin of Finca Don Pachi and Price Peterson’s Hacienda La Esmeralda Special, gesha might only be known in research labs around the world. Susan and Price Peterson moved from the United States to Panama in the early ‘70s and founded their farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda. In 2003, Price’s son, Daniel discovered a new variety of coffee planted on the farm in Jarmillo. Hacienda La Esmeralda is a farm in the mountains of western region of Boquete. Coffee is grown from approximately 3,300 feet to 6,000 ft in several different locations, mainly in the region of Palmira/Cañas Verdes (on the side of the Baru Volcano), Jaramillo and Quiel. The farms employ about 50 people on a permanent basis, swelling to 300 during the coffee harvest. Including families, this means that over 1,000 people depend directly on the farm for their incomes. The farm is also Rainforest Alliance Certified and the Peterson family has been committed to growing and maintaining their farm to the highest standards in terms of sustainability. They are also very involved in supporting the local community of pickers by financing a nursery for families, which includes activities for the young children in addition to a lunch provided to all children. During harvest every employee is given a sack of rice on a weekly basis. A donation of $50 at the beginning of the school year for every permanent employee with a child in school (to help buy uniforms and supplies) is also supplied. Each year an expedition to the beach for an all day employee party also occurs.
Each picker is paid a premium for specifically picking only red ripe coffee cherry. Each evening the coffee is received in the wet mill where the coffees are processed. Each harvester's production for the day is weighed and inspected for defects or green beans. Bright, with sweet acidity, and explosively floral on the palate, Esmeralda Special has won 1st place in 16 international coffee competitions since 2004. Gesha1500 is a lower grown version of the famous Esmeralda Special Auction Reserve. It comes from the same regions, but at altitudes between 4,500 and 4,750 feet. The coffee comes from a blend of micro-lots in Jaramillo known as Plano, Hoguera, Lecheria, Naranjo and Retorno. In another parcel in Cañas Verdes there’s Colga and the early pickings of Fundador, Chinta and Trapiche. Each of these are small parcels kept separate during the harvesting, processing and final selection the cupping room.
Allegro is excited to offer this rare selection from these parcels and to partner with the Peterson family to offer this limited edition coffee for our customers. I was truly inspired when I first got the call from Rachel, Price’s daughter, that they had a special allotment of this exotic coffee from their various parcels. We hope this is the beginning of a tradition between Hacienda Esmeralda and Allegro. Few coffees have stirred my emotion or palate as this year’s Panama Esmeralda Gesha 1500. - Darrin Daniel, Director of Sourcing
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