Pura Vida: In Search of the Gesha

Vigilante Coffee Sourcing Trip to Costa Rica

We believe that the ability to serve truly spectacular things comes only from a thorough understanding of the product, where it comes from, and who made it. We’re heading to Costa Rica next week on a mission to find something spectacular.  And we’re going to learn everything we can about it so we can properly share it with you.  

What’s so special waiting for us in Costa Rica?  Coffee, of course.  But not just any coffee.  A very specific varietal of coffee.  One whose name alone evokes mystery and exotic allure: gesha.

Gesha (sometimes also spelled geisha) is a specific varietal of the coffee plant, highly sought after in recent years for the very delicate and complex flavors its beans produce.  Though gesha is commonly associated with Panama, it was initially discovered in Ethiopia in the 1930s and came to Costa Rica decades later in the 1950s as a varietal appealing because of its resistence to leaf-rust.  Not knowing the gesha’s unusual preference for higher altitudes, early gesha farmers nearly wiped out the varietal throughout Central America by planting it at lower altitudes.  After years of mediocre results, the majority of the region’s gesha was eventually mixed with other varietals, resulting in the a masking of its truly divine flavor profile.

Gesha’s rise to fame came as a result of Hacienda le Esmeralda’s (a Panamanian farm) isolation of and proper care for its gesha plants.  In 2004, the farm entered its relatively unknown coffee into the Taste of Panama coffee competition and completely blew away the panel of judges.  From that moment on, gesha has been one of the most sought after coffees in the specialty coffee world, winning award after award, and fetching prices well over $100/pound for green (unroasted) coffee.

The image above is a first glimpse of the family-run farm we’ll be visiting in Costa Rica in search of our very own gesha.  We look forward to forming new partnerships with the farmers we meet as we experience the care and processes they use in producing these high-quality coffees.   And we hope that we’ll ultimately be able to share a cup of Costa Rican gesha, as well as the story and passion behind it with you.