Geisha – Are They Worth The High Price Tag?

Geishas are a coffee varietal...

known throughout the specialty coffee industry as the best of the best.  They routinely win awards and attain ridiculously high scores from professional coffee graders (Q graders).  This is because they are extremely crisp and clean, and known for their delicate flavors and floral notes.

They aren't cheap either.  The expense is due to the difficulty of cultivating and raising them as they are very finicky and sensitive plants.  They also don't produce nearly as much fruit as many of the other more common varieties. This means they can approach, and exceed $200 per pound in its green (unroasted) form.  In fact the current record for Geisha pricing was from Panama and sold for $803 per pound.

So that begs the question; is the flavor experience of a Geisha worth the cost of admission?  The short answer is yes, kind of...but the long answer is far, far more complicated.  If the question was based solely on the flavor experience of Geisha my answer may actually be a no.  I've never had one (yet) that really blew my mind.

Of course they've been sweet, clean, and crisp. Yet my most memorable flavor experiences have been with coffees far more accessible.  One that comes to mind is the washed Ethiopian from Hambela that I had nearly two years ago now.  That was the first time I tasted watermelon clear as day in a cup of coffee.  It came in a 12 ounce bag and was sold for $17.00.

The main reason I spend my hard earned money on Geishas is in a supportive way.  Not only do I want to support the roasters around the world who want to purchase this coffee, roast it, develop it, and deliver a unique experience to their customers.  But as a roaster and a green buyer I find myself thinking a lot about the farmers and producers in origin.  So when I purchase coffee, whether it be fore my personal consumption, or to roast for work, I want to make sure that those who are doing the work are getting paid a fair price for it.

I hope we as an industry continue to value the entire journey that brings us the coffees we love.  This includes paying a premium for Geishas and other experimental processes that risk a significant portion of a farms income just for a delicious cup of coffee.

So armed with this information, go out into the world of coffee and buy all the Geisha (within your budget) you can.  It's up to us as consumers to help the farmers, producers, and roasters push the boundaries of flavor within the specialty coffee industry. Whether or not its the best cup of coffee you've ever had isn't the point, it's all about progressing the industry forward.  If it ends up being a one-in-a-million cup of coffee, then that's just a great bonus.


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