Panama Esmeralda Gesha Set
The origin of coffee varieties and how they travel is always steeped in legend, and the story of Gesha is no different. It is clear that the variety began in Ethiopia, and was counted and harvested under the order of the Director of Agriculture in Kenya. Gesha traveled to Tanzania, then to CATIE in Costa Rica. This variety made its way to a farm in Palmira, Panama, in the 1960s, where it was mixed with other varieties. The plot of land was owned by Rudolph A. Peterson, a Californian banker who was preparing to retire to Panama. Rudolph Peterson was pulled away by other responsibilities, and the management of the farms eventually fell into the hands of Price Peterson. At the time, Hacienda La Esmeralda was predominantly a dairy farm, but in the mid-’80s, the farm was diversified to include coffee, which had a rich history in Boquete, Panama.
In the 1990s, a wave of coffee rust was ravaging farms in Panama, but Daniel Peterson noticed that the Gesha trees were not affected as severely by the fungus. They decided to plant more of the farm in this tree to prevent rust. And they planted Gesha across the farm, higher on the mountain than Gesha had ever been planted before. Innovation and progression are typically slow to happen in coffee production, but 2004's Best of Panama auction changed the next decade of high-end coffee production. While preparing for the competition, the Petersons separated the lots they were processing for the first time. The cuppers discovered that the high elevation lots from Jaramillo were floral and deeply complex, reminiscent of Geshas Ethiopian origin. This lot was submitted to the 2004 Best of Panama, and the legend of Gesha was ushered frontstage.
Following their spectacular rise to fame, the Petersons narrowed their focus to the continued development of their infrastructure and innovation in processing and lot separation. After getting the attention of the coffee world at large, they began producing natural process Geshas, which is standard practice now, but at the time was borderline scandalous. Shortly after winning 2004 Best of Panama, they launched the Esmeralda Special Auction, a private auction held yearly, featuring the top lots from the farms. Although they still participate in the Best of Panama, this new auction system has allowed them to feature more lots than the few that are submitted to BoP. Hacienda La Esmeralda was one of the first to hold a private auction, banking on confidence in their skills as producers, and their reputation for excellence. This internal auction model empowers the people that produce the lots to be paid a high price for all the work they’ve done, which in turn promotes innovation to seek higher quality the next season. Since the first Gesha lot was cupped in 2004, they’ve focused on producing the highest quality possible from their three farms. This focus continues today as their coffees continue to win awards in the Best of Panama, as well as fetching some of the highest prices paid for coffee in the world. The Petersons were instrumental in making the legendary variety from Ethiopia famous, even prompting a book to be written about them. Geshas from Hacienda La Esmeralda command a reverence on the cupping table by name, but will pull you in with their florals and their depth of sweetness…
WASHED PROCESSED COFFEES
Processing in coffee refers to the conversion of the raw coffee cherry into green coffee, a finished product for roasters to manipulate. Washed coffee can also be known as “wet-processed.” It refers to the removal of the fruit that covers the beans (seeds) before they are laid to dry. To do this, coffee cherries are then squeezed through a screen called a pulper. The fruit/skin travels down one shoot, while the coffee beans go into a large tank. The seeds at this point still are covered in a sticky, mucilage-like substance, think the stringy fruit left on a peach pit. From here, the coffee goes through a 24-hour fermentation. This step is a delicate time in processing where bacteria are eating and converting the mucilage and changing the flavor of the coffee. If this fermentation happens for too long and the coffee becomes vinegary, too little, and you end up drying coffee with mucilage semi-intact. The coffee is washed several times to remove any remaining mucilage that is left.
NATURALLY PROCESSED COFFEE
Natural coffees are beautiful… Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly and are pretty much the worst thing when not. Natural processing, or dry processing, refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. After the coffee cherries are picked from the tree, they are placed on perforated drying beds to allow airflow all around the cherry. They are dried in the sun until they have 12% moisture content or so and then hulled to remove the dry husk of the fruit. Naturally (get it?), they exhibit fruit-forward characteristics and have a good chance of tasting “fermenty,” which is usually a taboo in Specialty Coffee. However, with an advanced technique in picking and drying, high-quality naturals are being produced, and the cup quality and taste profiles are astoundingly good. We have long promoted alternative processing methods, and naturals are at the top of that list.
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER – V60
12g Coffee : 200g Water 200°F
~3:00 Drain Time
Ground fine, like table salt, finer than traditional V60 recipes
• 30g Circular Bloom
• @30s Center Pour 50g, total 80g
• @1:00 Center Pour 60g, total 140g
• @1:30 Center Pour 60g, total 200g
~3:00 Drain Time
A special coffee like this deserves a special recipe. We loved the tropical papaya note throughout, the tart raspberry and floral honey sweetness. We also wanted to make a simple recipe that gets a lot of flavor out of very little coffee. This coffee has a lot of soluble material and tastes good in a wide range of times and brew methods. This recipe brought out more body than traditional V60 methods because of its fine grind size. This also brought out a sweet marshmallow candy note. If your grind is too coarse, this recipe drains too quickly and under-extracts. It tastes like tart raspberry, but is still pretty floral, though it lacks the persistent papaya flavor. If your grind is too fine, this recipe drains too slowly and over-extracts. It tastes like lucky charms and some kind of diet fruity soda.
FILTER – Kalita Wave
12g Coffee : 200g Water 200°F
~3:00 Drain Time
Ground finer, like a traditional V60 grind setting rather than a Kalita.
• 30g Bloom
• @30s Pour 50g (heavy circles), total 80g
• @1:00 Pour 60g (heavy circles), total 140g
• @1:30 Pour 60g (light circles), total 200g
~3:00 Drain Time
Esmeralda is known as the modern founder of the gesha cultivar. In a way this coffee is a look at the roots of the gesha varietal and what popularized it. We wanted to make a recipe that respected those roots and our own. We love the Kalita Wave brewer for its balance and ability to emphasize each aspect of a coffee. The dose ensures we can get a lot out of a little coffee and you don’t have to waste a single bean. The grind size helps get more sugars and body into the cup. The coffee shines here with jasmine, peach, papaya and finishes with a lingering meyer lemon tart sweetness. Similar to the recipe for the Esmeralda Natural, this one is difficult to taste bad. Look for balance and elegance in this cup. If your grind is too coarse, this coffee will still be good, but loses some of the texture and balance, favoring the bright meyer lemon note. If your grind is too fine, the brew will choke and drain too slow, also be sure to actually pour heavily during the 2nd and 3rd pours. If this happens the coffee tastes malty, but still quite tasty.
These Relationship Coffees came about after Brenda from Hacienda La Esmeralda contacted us with some offer samples. We cupped through two tables of truly tremendous samples, making a selection of only two lots pretty tricky. In the end, we selected two 22.7-kilo lots, and air freighted them to our roastery for $253.93. We wired the total directly to Hacienda La Esmeralda.
Panama Esmeralda Gesha Fundador Washed Gesha #5
We purchased forty-nine pounds of this washed Gesha for $50/lb, cupping this at an 87.5 on the SCAA score sheet.
Panama Esmeralda Gesha Nori Natural Gesha #1
We purchased forty-nine pounds of this natural Gesha for $60/lb, cupping this at an 88 on the SCAA score sheet.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.06/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we bought this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.