Geisha Coffee: What Is It, and What’s all The Hype About?
Have you ever wondered what makes a coffee expensive? Well, enter fascinating Geisha coffee which keeps shaking the worlds of coffee aficionados everywhere.
Recently, this coffee became the most expensive coffee in the world, and the demand for a cup is getting higher by the day.
This famous coffee has a unique taste and reputation that attracts passionate coffee-drinkers. However, is it worth the price? In this article, we will cover the origins of Geisha coffee, track its rise, and discuss the traits that make it so valuable.
What Is Geisha Coffee?
First, you’re probably wondering where Geisha coffee is from. These coffee beans originally come from Ethiopia, from the Gori Gesha forest. The name of the coffee hails from this region, but in a series of misunderstandings, it adopted the name of historical women entertainers from Japan (1). Today both Gesha and Geisha are viable terms for the coffee. Many consider Geisha coffee’s some of the top rated beans in the world.
It was first brought from Ethiopia to Costa Rica in the 1950s to the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center. Afterward, it was taken to Panama as one of the new types of coffee that the country may cultivate. Hacienda la Esmeralda was one of the farms that took the seeds.
Flash forward to 2004, the same farm introduced these coffee beans at that year’s Best of Panama coffee auction. It practically blew the mind of all taste evaluators and became famous worldwide pretty much overnight. At the 2018 edition of the auction, these coffee beans were sold for US$803 per pound. Today, Geisha costs up to $110 per cup, making it one of the most expensive coffees in the world (2).
What Does Geisha Coffee Taste Like?
Geisha coffee has a distinctive, flowery and fruit-like flavour that can vary depending on the origin. It can have a hint of citrus, mango, papaya, guava, and many other exotic fruit flavours.
Boot Coffee’s Willem Boot described what Geisha’s taste like (3):
It is like a precious perfume, with rose, jasmine, and bergamot notes. In the cup, it has an amazing array of delicate flavours with an unusual lingering aftertaste. You might taste lime, honeysuckle, papaya – it’s always incredibly fruit-forward.
Why Is It So Expensive?
The Panama Geisha variety is considered the best Geisha coffee in the world as it repeatedly scores the highest number of points of all competitors with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). The SCA uses a 100-point scoring system to evaluate the quality of coffee cups, with Geisha always scoring above 90 (4).
Why is Geisha so expensive? It requires unique cultivating conditions, has a stunning aroma, and is rated as outstanding by the experts.
Bo Thiara, an owner of a famous coffee shop in San Francisco that sells Geisha coffee, explains this: “Just like wine, on a scale up to 100, this coffee got the highest rating ever”, Thiara told ABC (5), and then explained the importance of the Best of Panama competition:
[The Best of Panama competition is] like Oscars for coffee
On the other hand, Geisha is not an easy plant to cultivate. It requires a certain altitude, photosynthesis is not as efficient, and you have to pick a perfect time to harvest the beans (6).
So, the highest score from the SCA and its recent worldwide success have stimulated the rise in this coffee’s value. Add to that the unique cultivating conditions and a fruity aroma unlike any other coffee, and you can easily understand why this type of coffee is considered so valuable.
How Much Does It Cost?
Geisha can go up to US$600 per pound, especially if you want to purchase it from the famous Hacienda la Esmeralda.
You can find it for as low as $9 per cup in Panama and for $18 in some coffee shops in New York. However, one coffee shop in San Francisco recently sold out limited supplies of the ”Elida Geisha 803” beans for $75 per cup (2).
A coffee shop in San Francisco recently sold out its entire supply of this coffee for $75 per cup.
Is It Worth the Price?
Since the demand is still so high for this specialty coffee, the price isn’t expected to drop anytime soon. But, is it worth it?
If you want to drink Geisha every day instead of your regular coffee, it is probably not worth it. However, if you want to experience a unique, world-renowned taste once in a while, then it is.
Ask yourself this – is Château Cheval Blanc worth the price compared to your average grocery store wine? If you think it is, then you have your answer.
Geisha may be the most expensive coffee in the world, but it doesn’t mean that it is overrated. If you are passionate about coffee, you should definitely try it out. There are so many factors that go in favour of it being the best coffee in the world.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should drink Geisha every morning, but rewarding yourself with a cup of Geisha from time to time will certainly do you a world of good.
Yes, Geisha coffee is Arabica. Geisha is considered an original offshoot from the Arabica variety, rather than a hybrid or cultivated breed. Geisha is a stable variety, meaning that it will reproduce true to type from generation to generation (7).
The best roast for Geisha coffee is a light roast, which will allow you to maintain all of the delicate flavours that these beans are known for. In technical terms, Geisha beans are often roasted until just after the first crack, to a temperature around 213 – 224 C.
You brew Geisha coffee by following all of the best practices for good coffee. The brewing method is not as important as respecting the beans. Grind the beans fresh before brewing, use the correct ratio for your brewer, and use filtered water. You may also want to clean your grinder before use to ensure that there is no residue from other beans. To enjoy the full flavour of the beans, serve without additives such as milk or sugar.
- Stop Calling It “Geisha” Already. (2018, December 26). Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://sprudge.com/stop-calling-it-geisha-already-136137.html
- Ali, R. (2019, May 16). Good ’til the last drop? $75 cups of coffee sell out in California. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/05/14/most-expensive-coffee-offered-75-cup-and-sells-out/3664687002/
- Sustainable Harvest Coffee. (2019, June 17). Geisha: How a Star Was Born. Retrieved July 04, 2019, from https://vimeo.com/109977929
- Coffee Plants of the World. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://sca.coffee/research/coffee-plants-of-the-world
- 6ABC. (2019, May 13). That’s a latte! Coffee shop brews $75 cups of Panamanian coffee. Retrieved July 4, 2019, from https://6abc.com/coffee-worlds-most-expensive-cup-of-latte-klatch-roasters/5297427/
- Neuschwander, H. (n.d.). Coffee in the new millenium. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://intelligence.coffee/2022/03/the-risks-and-rewards-of-geisha-production/
- Sometimes Geisha Seeds Don’t Look Like the Typical Geisha Shape. (2019, January 11). Retrieved from https://www.baristahustle.com/blog/sometimes-geisha-seeds-dont-look-like-the-typical-geisha-shape/