At the end of 2017, Theodore’s Coffee Roasters sent me a nice care package containing a bag of their natural Catuai from Panama’s famed La Esmeralda farm, as well as a bag of Geisha from the same place that started the Geisha craze so many years ago. Let’s check this Geisha out!
THEODORE’S COFFEE ROASTERS PANAMA HACIENDA LA ESMERALDA GEISHA
What can I say about Theodore’s Coffee Roasters for an introduction anymore, dear readers? I reviewed a ton of their coffee last year and liked every single one of them. They are on my “buy anything from them, with confidence” list. They source great coffees, their roasts are always nicely developed and sweet, and they offer free shipping on all orders. Excellent! This morning, I’m having a look at Theodore’s Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda in Boquete, Panama.
Here’s the Geisha story in a nutshell… it has been around forever and the variety is named after the town in Ethiopia where it originated, Gesha (which is another way you can spell the name of this coffee). Somewhere during the mid-1950’s, if memory serves me, Geisha plants were transplanted into Central America, probably to test their yields and resistance to leaf rust in another part of the world. Geisha was soon forgotten about in this part of the world until the mid-2000’s or so when the Petersons, who own Hacienda La Esmeralda in Panama, noticed they had part of their farm growing with a lot of Geisha. Instead of mixing these coffees in with their other lots, they started separating the Geisha lots from the rest and they liked the results. They placed a lot of Geisha in the Cup of Excellence auction and people went completely insane for this coffee. Thusly, the Geisha craze started and it seems to have calmed down some, but people are still pretty fanatic about Geisha coffees today!
Theodore’s Geisha grows around 1600-1800masl and it’s a lot of Geisha grown at La Esmeralda’s Jaramillo, Cañas Verdes and El Velo farms. This sounds like the same lot of coffee as Monarch’s Geisha that I reviewed recently and absolutely loved, too. This is a washed coffee and Theodore’s gives us tasting notes of, “Floral like violet and lilly, tangerine, raspberry, honeysuckle and sweet chocolate finish.” Most people seem to remark on Geisha’s floral notes and brightness when they taste a good example of this variety, so let’s dive in! I’m using my standard pourover setup of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalta 185 filter and Third Wave Water. Handground grinder is set to “3.”
From the first sip, I can tell this is a totally different roast from Monarch’s treatment of this coffee. This has an immediate sweetness and heavier body that crosses my tongue and the florals don’t come into play until about mid-sip for me, although they’re also present in the aroma coming from the cup. Definitely give this coffee time to cool down to a comfortable drinking temperature because it opens the flavors up a lot. The floral notes remind me of fresh cut flowers. I’m no good at picking out specific floral notes, but in this cup they are fresh and “natural” rather than coming off as perfumey or synthetic in any way. This coffee has a nice, medium body with a honey-like sweetness that plays nicely with the florals. To counter the sweet base of this coffee, there is a pleasant citrus acidity and I think Theodore’s use of “tangerine” is spot-on for this. While I was getting lots of lime notes from Monarch’s version of this Geisha, this one is solidly more orange-like, but even a little sweeter and more complex than orange, which conjures tangerine in my mind, too. This tangerine note brightens the coffee about 1/3 of the way into the sip and carries through into the lingering aftertaste, too, so it’s a big player in the overall flavor profile of this cup. If I agitate the coffee around and puff air out of my nose (“retronasal breathing” which is a great way to look for nuances in food and bev, but probably best done in the privacy of one’s home! LOL) I do get some hints of fresh raspberry, too. This coffee has a nice, sweet finish and the aftertaste has tangerine and a bit of the same notes as a milk chocolate bar with raspberry in it would. Yum!
This is an excellent cup. It’s really delicious, clean, balanced, structured. It’s super easy to drink and there’s absolutely nothing about it that I don’t like. Theodore’s is down to just a handful of bags of this coffee, so jump on it before it’s gone, and it’s on sale with free shipping right now, too! People always ask when I end up with two very similar/same coffees at the same time… “which one should I buy?” In this case it’s a tough call. I loved both Theodore’s and Monarch’s version, a lot. I think Monarch’s does a better job of highlighting the florals and getting a lot of brightness out of the coffee and showing what makes Geishas different from any other coffees. I think Theodore’s is overall a more complex coffee with more going on and an easier drinker because of it, so it really depends on what you’re looking for. First time Geisha drinker looking for the unique experience? Get Monarch’s. Otherwise, you won’t be disappointed in either and if you can afford it, get both and see just how important roast is to the final product in your cup! Big thanks to Theodore’s for sending this very special (and expensive) coffee to me, too! They don’t have to do that, knowing full well they’ll sell all they have and don’t need any extra press, so I always appreciate the gesture and kindness! Happy New Year, everybody!