Geisha (coffee)

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Coffee Variety Information
Leaf Tip ColorGreen or Bronze
Bean SizeAverage
Quality PotentialExceptional
Yield PotentialMedium
Coffee Leaf RustTolerant
Coffee Berry Disease (CBD)Susceptible
WCR Variety Catalog: Geisha (Panama)
An overview look at a coffee farm

Gesha coffee, sometimes referred to as Geisha coffee,[1] is a variety of coffee tree that originated in the Gori Gesha forest, Ethiopia, though it is now grown in several other nations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It is widely known for its unique flavor profile of floral and sweet notes, its high selling price, and its exclusivity as its demand has increased over the years.[1]

While there are many varieties labeled gesha (or geisha), the Panamanian Geisha has a distinct and verifiable genetic fingerprint.[2][3][4]

After its discovery in Ethiopia, it was sent to the Tengeru (now Lyamungu) Coffee Research Station in Tanzania. In 1953, plants successfully cultivated at Lyamungu as VC-496 were taken to Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) in Costa Rica and recorded as accession T2722. From there, CATIE distributed it throughout Central America.[5] In 2005, The Peterson family of Boquete, Panama, entered a Geisha coffee into the Best Of Panama competition. It won the competition and sold for a then-record price of US$350/pound (US$770/kilogram);[4] in 2017, a lot of natural Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda established a new Best of Panama record of US$601/pound (US$1,320/kilogram).[6] Seven pounds of Geisha coffee of the Lamastus Family Estate sold for $42,000 in September 2022 during private auction hosted by the Sensible Coffee auction house.


The name "Geisha" has been applied to the coffee since it was first collected by British officials. A 1936 letter from the British Consulate in Ethiopia discussing a trip to the "Geisha coffee area," where samples were collected for further study. The name "Gesha" comes from the transliteration of the Amharic name for the region, ጌሻ.[7] (The local Kafa language in Gesha did not have a written form until the 1990s.)[8] In most instances, Geisha/Gesha coffees from Ethiopia use the Gesha spelling while those from elsewhere use Geisha, based on how the cultivator was originally labeled, although some Latin American producers use Gesha to indicate a variety grown from original Ethiopian stock.[7] Despite the origin of the Geisha name being a misspelling or phonetic rendering for Gesha, the increasing awareness of the variety has raised concerns about improperly linking the coffee with Japanese geisha entertainers.[9]


Coffee production in Ethiopia dates back dozens of centuries; according to legend it has been harvested there since the 9th century.[10] Ethiopia is the world's main storehouse of genetic diversity for Arabica coffee, and this diversity is manifest in the chemicals that produce flavour. Ethiopia has a complex climate and landscape, resulting in regional and local differences across the coffee growing landscape.[1] The Geisha variety of Coffea arabica was identified in the 1930s, in the mountainous Gesha region of southwestern Ethiopia.[11] After seeds were collected in 1936 by a British consul, the coffee was planted in Tanzania and Costa Rica. From there, cultivation spread to Panama in the 1960s, including the famed Boquete region[11] that was suffering from the leaf rust fungus. This variety is resistant to this fungus but it has a small root system and is not very productive. There was no specialty coffee back in those days, so farmers switched back to other varieties.

Growing and Processing[edit]

Geisha coffee begins with picking the ripest cherries. Producers prefer hand-picked cherries as it helps ensure only properly ripe coffee cherries are harvested.[12] The riper the cherry means the resulting coffee will have a sweeter flavor profile. The cherries then go through quality inspection. Some producers have the technology to put their cherries into a machine which determines the quality of the cherries. Some smaller producers have workers sort through the picked cherries by hand. The cherries are processed either by means of wet or dry methods. Washed coffees are often described as 'cleaner' and more delicate in the cup (i.e., during drinking), lighter-bodied, and with a brighter, better-defined acidity and brighter fruit notes. Washed coffees are also described as more balanced (i.e., lacking particularly strong tasting notes or biases).[13] Dry-processed (natural) coffees tend to be fuller-bodied, fruitier, sweeter and less acidic, although in some cases the acidity is more pronounced and easier to define.[1]

After those methods are complete, the producers end with a Geisha coffee bean.[1]

Flavor profile[edit]

The flavor profile of Geisha coffee is one aspect that contributes to its renown. Geisha is known for its sweet flavor and aroma of floral notes, jasmine, chocolate, honey, and even black tea.[14][15] These sweet floral notes, and complex flavor profiles are some of the many characteristics that Geisha coffee shares with most other African coffees.[16] Additionally, this unique flavor is also one of the contributing factors for Geisha's high price tag and prestige. Whilst it may be difficult to pinpoint a flavour profile to any specific coffee area, the differences between (and even identification of) many of the coffee areas can be made by experienced coffee cuppers.[17] Gesha is the home of the world-famous Gesha (Geisha) coffee, and this origin is now starting to produce its own very high quality washed, semi-washed, and dry-processed coffees. Gesha (Geisha) coffee grown within and outside Ethiopia is noted for its outstanding aroma and flavour, with notes of jasmine, black tea, and tropical fruit, and for profound sweetness. For these reasons, Gesha (Geisha) coffee is sought-after and usually commands a high price.[1]

Sales & auction prices[edit]

The Best of Panama Coffee Competition has a long-standing reputation for having high dollar coffee at auction, which is where Geisha asserted itself as one of the world's highest costing coffees. This occurred in 2004 when Hacienda La Esmeralda entered the coffee into the competition where it was found to have a distinctly unusual taste before being purchased at auction for a record price of $21 per pound.[18] 15 years later, at the 2019 Best of Panama Competition and Auction, another Geisha sold for $1,029 per pound (unroasted).[19] Earning the nickname "Elida Natural Geisha 1029," this Geisha was produced on the Lamastus Family Estates.[19] 100 pounds of Geisha coffee sold for $100,000, ranking above the next closest coffee by $80,000. Geisha is perhaps the most valuable coffee in the world.[20]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hoffmann, James (2014). The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing: Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed. Richmond Hill, Ontario. ISBN 978-1-77085-470-3. OCLC 874735327.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ "Arabica Coffee Varieties | Geisha (Panama)". World Coffee Research. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  3. ^ Pruvot-Woehl, Solène; Krishnan, Sarada; Solano, William; Schilling, Tim; Toniutti, Lucile; Bertrand, Benoit; Montagnon, Christophe (1 April 2020). "Authentication of Coffea arabica Varieties through DNA Fingerprinting and its Significance for the Coffee Sector". Journal of AOAC International. 103 (2): 325–334. doi:10.1093/jaocint/qsz003. PMID 33241280. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b Bramel, Paula; Krishnan, Sarada; Horna, Daniela; Lainoff, Brian; Montagnon, Christophe (2017). Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee Genetic Resources (Report). Bonn, Germany: The Crop Trust. p. 73.
  5. ^ Meza, Miguel (2 March 2021). "Geisha in Tanzania". Paradise Coffee Roasters. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  6. ^ Newton, Tanya (25 July 2017). "World Record Broke as Geisha Coffee Sells for US $601/lb". Perfect Daily Grind. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b Meister, Ever (9 November 2017). "Is it Geisha or Gesha? If Anything, It's Complicated". Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  8. ^ Koehler, Jeff (2017). Where the Wild Coffee Grows: The Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to Your Cup. New York City, New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781632865113.
  9. ^ Chen, Jenn (5 September 2019). "Stop Calling It 'Geisha' Already". Sprudge. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  10. ^ Weinberg, Bennett Alan; Bealer, Bonnie K. (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug. New York: Routledge. pp. 3–4. ISBN 0-415-92722-6.
  11. ^ a b Sukiman, Suhaimie (1 June 2015). Guerra, A (ed.). "What Is Panama Geisha? The Reality of a Fantasy Bean". Perfect Daily Grind.
  12. ^ Romero, Matt. "Panama Geisha: Full Guide to One of the World Best Coffee". Panama Life Insider. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  13. ^ Ospina, Angie Katherine Molina (18 December 2018). "Processing 101: What Is Washed Coffee & Why Is It So Popular?". Perfect Daily Grind. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  14. ^ Davis, Aaron (2018). Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. p. 53. ISBN 9781842466605.
  15. ^ "A beginners guide to coffee: Panama Geisha". 7 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Coffee Origin Characteristics | The Definitive Guide to Coffee from Around the World". North Star Roast. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  17. ^ Davis, Aaron (2019). Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia. Kew. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-84246-660-5.
  18. ^ "Awards | Hacienda Esmeralda". Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Elida Estate Gesha Earns $1,029 Per Pound in Record-Breaking Best of Panama Auction". Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Best of Panama eAuction - Speciality Coffee 2019". Retrieved 25 September 2020.