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A one-of-a-kind flavor for a Central American coffee, due to the special varietal flavors of Gesha. Delicate, light body with jasmine blossom, raspberry/strawberry aromatics, bergamot, anise, and a hint of bluebberry. City to City+ roast.
This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City or City+. Full City still has great aromatic complexity and perhaps more balance and body. FC+ is where roast flavors start to eclipse the origin flavors, the floral and fruited notes. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color after roasting, don't worry about it.
The renowned farm Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama held an auction for separated lots of their Esmeralda Especial Gesha coffee again this year. This was a mixed blessing: on the one hand this careful separation of Gesha lots by location or plot on the farm, and by harvest date, meant that we could compare and choose based on cup quality. Indeed we found there was a huge range in qualities among the different elevations. On the down side, the competition would drive the best lots to extreme prices: we are lucky that our favorite lots on the cupping table were not the "reserve" coffee that sold for $117 per pound! We thought the Caballeriza lot (as well as the Mario Carnival, which we did not bid on) were the best in the auction. No, it didn't go cheap, but it was less than the $125/Lb coffee from last year. I felt, overall, that last year's coffee was of a higher caliber. It was a small crop for most producers in Panama this year, and the limited amount in the Esmeralda auction might have driven prices more than anything. I felt that the cup we rated above 97 last year outcupped the new coffees even after it was stored 10 months or more. But this Caballeriza lot from 1500 meters in the Jaramillo area of Boquete really rated high next to the older coffees. Gesha (often spelled, wishfully, as Geisha, but this is not correct) is a cultivar with strong Ethiopian roots. It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Gesha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. It's extremely floral in the aromatics, with loads of tropical fruit. It is light bodied and delicate on one hand, yet extremely flavorful and long-lasting on the palate. There is no other coffee quite like it. And other farms that have cultivated Gesha don't attain the cup quality of the best Esmeralda Gesha. We have bought this coffee in auction, and farm direct for years. I was at the Best of Panama competition this year and Esmeralda Gesha won it, again; the Esmeralda Gesha makes blind cupping almost senseless, since I can identify its amazing fragrance, aroma and cup flavors immediately when I come upon it in a "blind" cupping! It is that dry fragrance that lets you know right away what is coming when the water hits the cup: this lot has sweet jasmine-like floral scents, and raspberry-strawberry fruit sweetness. The wet aroma has floral-herbal shampoo character, a hint of apricot and almond essence. The cup has jasmine and bergamot (the citrusy note from Earl Grey tea). There are layers of fruit below the citrus, red currant, dried strawberries, a touch of blueberry flavor as it cools, and just a dash of anise seed. The body is light, but silky in character. It's a delicate coffee, but so vividly sweet and flavorful! NOTE: I was cupping this today on a table of excellent Kenyas (Jan 28, 6 months after arrival, stored in vac packs) and it is amazing! Fresh, ripe, sweet tangerine citrus notes, berry hints, strawberry, a touch of anise. It's amazing how well this coffee maintains its character! -Tom