The most famous Gesha cultivar coffee, from Hacienda Esmeralda. The Mario Carnaval lot is from the classic Gesha portion of the farm at 1500-1650 meters. Jasmine, sweet berry, Bourbon vanilla and honey, light and juicy body, refined finish. City to City+ roast is ideal.
General Esmeralda Gesha Roast: Pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. 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, but much less floral character
We have offered Esmeralda Especial Gesha for a decade now, but only in the last 3 years has the farm held a private auction to market this famous coffee. 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 chose 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. At one time we paid $6 to $11 per Lb for this coffee, and now the prices for the lowest level of Geshas in the auction are $20. We simply buy the lots we think are best, and this year we bought two, Mario Enero and Mario Carnaval. They are actually from the same Mario plot, just different harvest periods. Mario is the original Gesha area on the farm in Jaramillo, not one of the new areas they have since planted. It is located between 1500-1650 meters, harvested during the month of February, 2010. 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. 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: incredible sweet floral, citrus blossom, sweet honey perfume atomized into the air. In terms of intensity, fruited and floral aspects, wet-processed Ethiopians and Kenyas are more in league with Gesha than any other Central American coffee. But it is difficult to price this sort of cup character. And when it is as exotic ...no, extraterrestrial ... as the Esmeralda Gesha, it is even more hard to quantify. In tasting the Gesha coffees, the cup flavors might seem less intense than the extreme aromatics. As the cup cools, perceived intensity and brightness will increase exponentially.
Aromatically, Gesha from Esmeralda is always a treat. Mario Enero is shockingly sweet in the dry fragrance. Jasmine and honeysuckle floral accent with berry fruits, Enero is the classic Esmeralda Gesha coffee. Honey and mild graham cracker hints are evident too. The wet aroma also has distinct jasmine, as well as cherry notes, honey, caramel, and soft milk chocolate at slightly darker roast levels. The cup has a light-yet-juicy body. Interestingly, after these knock-out aromatics, the first sip of the hot brew can be a little bit underwhelming. Wait for the temperature to drop a few degrees and it really "opens up." Enero is less fruity from the later harvests on the Mario plot, with a more honey and jasmine flavor profile. There is a wonderful Bourbon vanilla bean note in the afternose. The acidity in this years Mario seems a bit more tame than last year, and I think I appreciate that. The cup has a better structure, well-knit flavors, brightness and body. As it heads toward room temperature, the sweetness really turns up, and added to jasmine, honey and vanilla are bright raspberry notes with hints of bergamot orange. Note that we have found a few quakers (light-color beans that do not roast, they come from under-ripe coffee cherries) in this years coffees. In reality, there has always been a bit of this in Esmeralda Gesha lots, and just remove the 1 or 2 you might see in your roast before grinding and brewing.