Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha Coffee

Earlier this week, we attended an event at Intelligentsia Coffee's roasting facility to taste and hear about an extraordinarily expensive coffee, the Geisha coffee from Hacienda La Esmeralda in Panama. Ten bags of it were deemed to be the very best coffee in Panama and were purchased for $130 a pound earlier this year at auction. A buying group of coffee roasters purchased the lot, and some of it went to Intelligentsia. To celebrate the acquisition and continue their quest to promote fine coffee, they invited friends and interested members of the public to come and taste the coffee.

For $25 each, we received a 1/4 lb bag of La Esmeralda Geisha coffee (not from the auction lot though), and we got to try the auction lot coffee, brewed through Intelligentsia's Clover coffee machine. We also got to hear about coffee from Geoff Watts of Intelligentsia and Daniel Peterson from Hacienda La Esmeralda - two men who are obviously passionate about what they do.

So how was it?

At first, we weren't sure about it... we tasted citrus notes, and it smelled very floral in the bag (I snuck a sniff of the bag of beans)... But we were tasting it in isolation, and weren't sure what to make of it. A little disclaimer: while we are adventurous coffee drinkers, always seeking out something new and exploring the different regions, we're still learning about fine coffees.

The fine folks at Intelligentsia then put out some other coffees, and that really helped us in experiencing the Geisha coffee. Geoff and Daniel talked about the coffee and about why its so special. Geoff also suggested that the best way to taste coffees is next to each other, so you can compare and contrast the flavors. He was so right! When we tried the La Esmeralda Geisha next to their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (the coffee style it is most similar to, Geoff said), we could really see the differences. The Geisha was delicate, complex, citrusy and floral in comparison. The Yirgacheffe was nice too, but not nearly as complex or nuanced.

So when will we use our Geisha beans? We're not sure yet, but we'll probably use some soon. We don't have a Clover, but we're looking forward to trying it out in our French press...

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