Panamian Farmer Picking Elida Geisha Coffee

The Craft and Cultivation of Elida Geisha Coffee

1. The Allure of Elida Geisha Coffee

When it comes to luxury coffee, few varieties captivate connoisseurs quite like Elida Geisha. This exceptional coffee, grown in the mountains of Panama by the Lamastus family, consistently earns top marks from expert tasters and fetches record-breaking prices at auction. What makes Elida Geisha so special? Read on to discover the story behind this coffee's rise to global prominence.

The Lamastus family has been cultivating coffee at their Elida Estate for over a century. Sitting at the highest elevations in Panama, the estate's unique microclimate, rich volcanic soil, and precise farming practices come together to produce truly extraordinary coffee. Elida Geisha represents the zenith of the farm's offerings - a rare and masterfully grown coffee that showcases the very best of the prized Geisha varietal.

2. The Genesis of Elida Geisha

The Origins of Geisha Coffee

To understand Elida Geisha's prestige, we first need to explore the history of the Geisha coffee variety Geisha originated in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee itself. However, it was in Panama that this unique varietal found its perfect home. In the 1960s, Geisha seeds were brought to Panama as part of a program to increase coffee plant diversity. The varietal remained relatively unknown until 2004, when the Peterson family of Boquete, Panama entered it into the Best of Panama competition. Geisha's distinctive floral aroma and complex flavor profile immediately captured the attention of judges and coffee enthusiasts worldwide.

The Founding of Elida Estate

In 1918, Robert Lamastus purchased land along the Baru Volcano in Panama's Boquete region, establishing what would become Elida Estate. Over the following decades, the Lamastus family dedicated themselves to refining their farming practices and cultivating exceptional coffee. Under the stewardship of Robert's descendants, Elida Estate evolved into a world-renowned coffee farm. The family's commitment to quality, sustainability, and innovation positioned them at the forefront of Panama's burgeoning specialty coffee industry.

3. The Terroir of Elida Estate

Unique Ecological Conditions

Elida Estate's terroir - the unique combination of geography, climate, and soil that shapes a coffee's flavor - is truly one-of-a-kind. Situated at the highest elevations in Panama, ranging from 1670 to 1890 meters above sea level, the estate benefits from cool temperatures, abundant rainfall, and consistent cloud cover. The farm's location along the slopes of the Baru Volcano gifts it with mineral-rich, volcanic soil. This fertile earth, combined with Elida's precise shade management and ecological farming practices, allows coffee trees to thrive and produce exceptional cherries.

Conservation and Biodiversity

The Lamastus family recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship in crafting world-class coffee. A significant portion of Elida Estate lies within the Baru Volcano National Park, a protected ecological reserve. By maintaining a biodiverse shade canopy and implementing sustainable farming practices, Elida promotes a healthy ecosystem while preserving the natural habitat of native flora and fauna. This commitment to conservation not only benefits the environment but also contributes to the distinct flavor profile of Elida Geisha.

4. Cultivating Excellence

Geisha Varietals and Planting

At Elida Estate, meticulous attention is paid to every step of the coffee cultivation process. The farm focuses primarily on the Geisha varietal, which is known for its elongated beans and distinctive floral and citrus notes. Within the Geisha family, there are two main sub-types: green tip and bronze tip, named for the color of the plant's young leaves. Elida works with both sub-types, with a particular focus on the highly-prized green tip variety.

The Lamastus family carefully selects the best planting sites for their Geisha trees, considering factors such as elevation, sun exposure, and soil quality. New seedlings are nurtured in a dedicated nursery before being transplanted to the estate's meticulously maintained fields.

Cherry Selection and Harvesting

Harvesting at Elida Estate is a labor of love. The farm employs skilled workers from the local Ngobe-Bugle indigenous community, who hand-pick only the ripest coffee cherries at the peak of perfection. Pickers must be trained to recognize the subtle color changes that indicate a cherry's optimal ripeness. They make multiple passes through the fields, carefully selecting mature cherries while leaving under-ripe ones to continue developing. This selective harvesting ensures that only the best cherries make it to the next stage of processing.

5. Masterful Processing Techniques

Classic Washed and Natural Methods

Once harvested, Elida Geisha cherries undergo meticulous processing to bring out their full potential. The estate employs two primary processing methods: washed and natural. In the washed method, cherries are pulped to remove the outer fruit and then fermented to break down the remaining mucilage layer. The beans are then thoroughly washed and slow-dried on raised beds. This process highlights Geisha's delicate floral notes and bright acidity.

For the natural method, whole cherries are dried intact on raised beds, allowing the fruit's natural sugars to infuse the bean. This process yields a cup with intense fruit notes, a fuller body, and a smooth, complex sweetness.

Innovative Anaerobic Slow Dry (ASD) Process

In addition to traditional processing methods, Elida Estate has pioneered innovative techniques like the Anaerobic Slow Dry (ASD) process. In this method, whole cherries are sealed in airtight tanks for an extended fermentation period before being slow-dried on raised beds. The ASD process intensifies Geisha's unique flavor attributes, resulting in a cup with unparalleled depth, sweetness, and complexity. This method showcases the Lamastus family's dedication to pushing boundaries and continually elevating the quality of their coffee.

6. Roasting and Quality Control

Preserving Elida Geisha's Unique Qualities

Roasting Elida Geisha requires skill and precision to showcase its delicate flavors and aromas. The Lamastus family works closely with trusted roasting partners who understand how to bring out the best in these exceptional beans. Light to medium roast profiles are typically used for Elida Geisha, to preserve its unique floral and fruit notes. Roasters must carefully monitor the process to ensure even development and avoid obscuring the coffee's inherent qualities.

Rigorous Quality Assurance

Before any Elida Geisha lot is approved for sale, it undergoes rigorous quality control measures. This includes visual inspection for defects, moisture content analysis, and extensive cupping sessions. Cupping involves the systematic evaluation of a coffee's aroma, flavor, acidity, body, and overall quality. Multiple trained cuppers assess each lot, ensuring consistency and identifying any potential issues. Only lots that meet Elida's exacting standards are released to the market.

7. Tasting Notes and Flavor Profile

A Symphony of Flavors

When it comes to flavor, Elida Geisha is in a league of its own. Its complex profile is often described as a symphony of floral, citrus, and sweet notes, with a silky, elegant mouthfeel. On the nose, Elida Geisha typically features intoxicating aromas of jasmine, bergamot, and citrus blossom. These floral notes are complemented by hints of ripe tropical fruit and raw honey.

In the cup, expect a delicate yet lively acidity, often compared to sweet lemon or mandarin orange. This brightness is balanced by a smooth, velvety body and flavors of honeysuckle, apricot, peach, and cocoa. The finish is clean, crisp, and lingering, with a gentle sweetness that calls to mind brown sugar or caramel. The overall experience is one of unparalleled elegance and complexity.

The Impact of Processing on Flavor

The specific flavor nuances of Elida Geisha can vary depending on the processing method used. Washed lots tend to highlight floral and citrus notes, with a more delicate body and cleaner finish. Natural and ASD-processed lots, on the other hand, often feature more intense fruit flavors, a fuller body, and a complex, wine-like sweetness. These lots are prized for their unique character and ability to challenge traditional perceptions of coffee flavor. Regardless of processing, Elida Geisha consistently delivers a truly exceptional cup quality. It invites drinkers to slow down, savor, and appreciate the artistry and dedication that goes into every step of its production.

8. Elida Geisha in the Global Coffee Scene

Accolades and Auction Prices

Elida Geisha's reputation precedes it in the global specialty coffee community. Year after year, coffees from Elida Estate dominate the Best of Panama competition, regularly earning top marks from judges and fetching record-breaking prices at auction. In 2019, an Elida Geisha Green Tip Natural lot set a new world record when it sold for an astonishing $1,029 per pound at the Best of Panama auction. This achievement is a testament to the unrivaled quality and desirability of Elida's coffee.

Beyond competitions, Elida Geisha consistently earns high praise from professional coffee reviewers. Coffee Review, a leading publication in the industry, has awarded multiple Elida Geisha lots scores of 97 and 98 points out of 100 - an extraordinary accomplishment that underscores this coffee's exceptional caliber.

Shaping the Specialty Coffee Market

The success of Elida Geisha has had a profound impact on the specialty coffee industry as a whole. Its consistently high prices and global acclaim have helped elevate the value and perception of specialty coffee, demonstrating the potential for truly exceptional lots to command premium prices.

Moreover, Elida's dedication to quality and innovation has inspired other producers to push the boundaries of what is possible in coffee cultivation and processing. The estate's pioneering work with varietals like Geisha and processing methods like ASD has set new standards for the industry and opened up exciting new flavor frontiers.

As specialty coffee continues to evolve, Elida Geisha remains a shining example of what can be achieved when passion, skill, and a commitment to excellence come together in the pursuit of the perfect cup.

9. Outro - The Legacy and Future of Elida Geisha

A Testament to Tradition and Innovation

The story of Elida Geisha is one of tradition, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to quality. From its humble beginnings as a small family farm to its current status as a global coffee icon, Elida Estate has consistently set the bar for what specialty coffee can be. Through their meticulous farming practices, innovative processing methods, and dedication to environmental stewardship, the Lamastus family has created a truly unparalleled coffee. Each cup of Elida Geisha represents generations of hard work, skill, and a deep love for the art and science of coffee cultivation.

So the next time you have the opportunity to try Elida Geisha, take a moment to savor it. Let its complex aromas and flavors wash over you, and appreciate the incredible journey that each bean has taken from the misty mountains of Panama to your cup. In doing so, you are not just drinking a coffee - you are participating in a story of tradition, innovation, and the pursuit of excellence that is truly unparalleled.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Elida Geisha coffee?

Elida Geisha is a rare and highly sought-after coffee variety grown by the Lamastus family at their Elida Estate in Boquete, Panama. Known for its exceptional quality and unique flavor profile, Elida Geisha consistently earns top scores in competitions and commands record-breaking prices at auctions.

What makes Elida Geisha special?

Several factors contribute to Elida Geisha's exceptional quality:

  1. Unique terroir: The coffee is grown at high elevations (1670-1890 meters above sea level) in the rich volcanic soil of the Baru Volcano, benefiting from a unique microclimate.
  2. Meticulous cultivation: The Lamastus family employs precise farming practices, carefully selecting and hand-picking only the ripest cherries.
  3. Innovative processing: Elida Estate uses both traditional (washed and natural) and innovative (Anaerobic Slow Dry) processing methods to bring out the best in the Geisha variety.

What does Elida Geisha taste like?

Elida Geisha boasts a complex and delicate flavor profile, often described as:

  • Floral notes of jasmine, bergamot, and citrus blossom
  • Sweet flavors of honey, tropical fruit, and cocoa
  • Bright, citrusy acidity balanced by a smooth, velvety body
  • Clean, crisp, and lingering finish with a gentle sweetness

How much does Elida Geisha cost?

Due to its rarity, exceptional quality, and high demand, Elida Geisha is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. In 2019, an Elida Geisha Green Tip Natural lot sold for $1,029 per pound at the Best of Panama auction, setting a new world record.

Why is Elida Geisha so expensive?

Several factors contribute to Elida Geisha's high price:

  1. Rarity: The Geisha variety has a lower yield compared to other coffee varieties, and the specific terroir and farming practices at Elida Estate further limit production.
  2. Quality: Elida Geisha consistently earns top scores from coffee experts, with some lots receiving 97-98 points out of 100 from Coffee Review.
  3. Demand: The unique flavor profile and reputation of Elida Geisha drive high demand among specialty coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs worldwide.

How is Elida Geisha typically roasted?

To showcase Elida Geisha's delicate flavors and aromas, roasters typically employ light to medium roast profiles. This approach helps preserve the coffee's unique floral and fruit notes while ensuring an even development.

Where can I try Elida Geisha?

Due to its limited availability and high price, Elida Geisha is typically sold in small quantities and offered at select specialty coffee shops or online retailers. Some shops may offer it as a special reserve or limited edition pour-over option.

How has Elida Geisha influenced the specialty coffee industry?

Elida Geisha has played a significant role in shaping the specialty coffee industry by:

  1. Elevating the value and perception of specialty coffee, demonstrating the potential for exceptional lots to command premium prices.
  2. Inspiring other producers to experiment with innovative cultivars and processing methods.
  3. Setting new standards for quality and flavor in the specialty coffee market.

What is the future of Elida Geisha and specialty coffee?

As the specialty coffee industry continues to evolve, Elida Geisha serves as an example of the pursuit of excellence in coffee cultivation, processing, and preparation. Its success has inspired more producers to focus on quality, sustainability, and innovation, which will likely lead to new and exciting developments in the world of specialty coffee.





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