If you pay close attention to the latest coffee trends, it’s entirely likely that you’ve already heard of Panama Geisha. This coffee has only been on the radar since 2004 but already it’s become one of the most sought-after beans in the world. This surge in popularity is easy to understand as the coffee combines a intense fruity flavor profile with a wonderfully bright mouthfeel.
History and geography
While it’s now only associated with Panama, the Geisha coffee plant was actually first discovered in the Gesha village in Ethiopia in 1931. The plant was imported to Panama in the 1960s, and the beans have only started to curry favor with aficionados in the last few years. The coffee was included in the 2004 Best of Panama coffee tasting competition, where it took the first prize. Since then the coffee has become sought after and commands seriously high prices.
Geisha coffee is grown in the bouquet region in western Panama at elevations of between 1,450 and 1,700 meters above sea level. The plant is technically a mutation of the standard Arabica coffee plant. Geisha coffee trees grow higher than regular varietals and are known for their elongated leaves and fruit.
Geisha coffee is known for its pronounced fruit and floral flavors. This is unusual for beans grown and processed in Latin America, which tend to exhibit nut and chocolate notes. When tasting Geisha coffee expect fruit notes of berry, lemon, orange, grapefruit, mango, peach, papaya, pineapple, or guava depending on the bean. Along with the intense fruit notes, there are also strong floral flavors of jasmine and bergamot.
Like many other Latin American coffees, Geisha has very little body. This along with a bright, clean mouthfeel and a delicate acidity make it extremely pleasant to drink.
The intense fruit and floral notes of Geisha can make food pairing a challenge. In fact, some argue that this coffee shouldn’t be paired with food at all. We’re going to ignore that advice and suggest that you try this coffee with berry-based desserts and treats. Berry pie in particular really brings out the sweeter notes of Geisha coffee.
Nut-based treats also work well when paired with the coffee, especially if they are joined by some cream or ice cream. Alternatively, if you’re shying away from the delectables, try pairing the coffee with a tropical or stone fruit salad.