Panama: Geisha Coffee Plantation
Panama grows the world’s most expensive coffee – Geisha coffee – in small plantation scattered in the cloud forest around Boquete. In 2019, Geisha coffee sold for $1029 per pound! Yes, it’s not a typo. Geisha is a distinct coffee variety, originally found in Ethiopia (called Gesha there), and brought to Panama in the early 2000s. In 2005, a small plantation near Boquete – Hacienda La Esmeralda – entered Geisha coffee in an international completion and surprisingly won by selling at a record $21 per pound unroasted. The prices doubled or tripled almost every year since, reaching $1029 in 2019’s auction. Around Boquete, there are several plantation where you can visit and taste the Geisha coffee (an incredible deal at $40 per tour and basically unlimited amount of Geisha coffee drinking). Geisha coffee grows almost wild in the cloud forest, the bushes are nearly 3m high, and the yield of berries is much lower compared with other varieties. After visiting the actual coffee plantation, you get to a very elaborate coffee tasting ceremony – nine different coffees. You taste 5 arabicas (light, medium, dark roasts, natural drying process, and whole berry process), 1 variety of Geisha and Caturra blend, and 3 varieties of pure Geisha. So what makes Geisha so special? The taste is actually very much similar to a fine black tea, so much that you almost feel you are drinking tea instead of coffee. Japanese love this stuff, and most the Panama exports go straight to Japan. We drank so much coffee, the heart was ready to jump out of the chest!