One more time, we’d like to thank the folks at Panama Coffee Gold Reserve for sending us some bags of their coffees.
And in case you didn’t read our reviews of those coffees, let me say a few words about Geisha coffee, where it comes from and why it’s so special.
Geisha is a rare coffee varietal that does well only under very particular conditions. It was discovered in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, where it was first found growing wild in the 1930s near the town of Gesha.
Over time plants were sent to other coffee-growing countries in Africa, and then to Costa Rica and Panama.
The Geisha varietal didn’t fare every well in Panama until someone found just the right climate and soil conditions in the Chiriqui Highlands on Panama’s tallest peak, Volcan Baru.
The rest, as they say, is history.
For years now Geisha coffees have been winning best coffee awards around the world. The supply is limited and the beans are highly prized by top roasters in North America and around the world.
Why did we want to try these coffees again, just one year later?
Good question - and the answer is simple. Like fine wines, fine coffees have good years, great years and sometimes not-so-good years.
So this time around we are tasting the 2016 harvest of both the Auromar Panama Geisha coffee and the Esmeralda Geisha Special.
We ground the beans fresh, brewed the coffees immediately and tasted them side by side. And we completed our tasting before referring back to our reviews of last year’s crop.
With the Auromar we were first struck by the fruity aroma while it was brewing. Once the brew had cooled a little, we both took a few sips – more like slurps – and took notes.
My wife and I pretty much agreed on the quality and profile of the coffee. (Truth be told, she’s the more skilled taster.)
The Auromar has a subtle intensity. It has a fresh brightness to it, but without the thin taste that often accompanies brightness in lesser coffees. There’s a perfect balance of fullness, acidity and sweetness, with the sweetness coming from berries and maybe something a little lighter, like honey melon or peach.
The 2016 Esmeralda is similar in taste. (Remember, these are both Panama Geisha beans, and both are roasted medium dark.) But while it has that same understated intensity and brightness to it, there are some differences.
For us, the sweetness of the Esmeralda has a slightly different character. Still fruity, but with floral and maybe even spicy tones.
This time around my wife said of the Esmeralda, “It tastes like a field of flowers!”
The strange thing is, when we looked back to see what we wrote last year, she used the exact same phrase... but about the Auromar.
So perhaps “field of flowers” is what best describes the underlying character of Panama Geisha coffee beans.
Anyway, these are both fabulous coffees and if you are looking for quality, and something a little different, we recommend you give them a try.
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NOTE: This product was sent to us free in return for a review. (That said, we always reserve the right NOT to review a free product if we don't like it, or feel you wouldn't like it.)