We review: Panama Hacienda La Esmerelda


We have been sampling Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha coffee from Discovery Coffee - Victoria B.C. and Transcend Coffee in Edmonton.

My initial experience with this was via Sam Jones of Discovery Coffee and 2% Jazz Coffee in Victoria. The word was, they were selling it for 60$ or so for 1/4 of a pound. I have never paid 60$ for a pound of coffee much less 1/4 of that - but I was open for some sips or samples.

Thankfully, Adam Tindale of the CoffeeCrew decided to pop out the cash for this commitment to great java. My first impression was one of amazement. I have never tasted coffee like this before. I mean, it did not even taste like coffee (from the Clover coffee system at Discovery). It tasted more like tea.

I took some of the coffee into my lab at the University. I brewed about 20 fluid ounces with my Newco OCS-8 and was, once again, enveloped in wonder. What a coffee! Everyone agreed, "Amazing!" "This is coffee?" "I have never had anything like this! Wow!"

Mark Poul and I gathered at Discovery Coffee on the weekend to knock heads and talk about specialty coffee. He brought a 1/2 pound bag of last years Geisha - as well as some killer Ethiopian coffee.

Panama La Hacienda Geisha originates in Ethiopia. I used to think that I knew Ethiopian coffee but this was a wake up call. There is something so different about this coffee that makes it almost impossible to describe. Simply - it does not taste like coffee. It smells like coffee. It lacks some of the familiar coffee signatures in the body. There is a crispness at the tip of the tongue (acidity) that is brisk without being too sharp. The finish is abbreviated, almost curt - with little or no aftertaste. All the kinds of chocolate tones and caramel notes you would expect are entirely absent.

Yes - this years crop sells at over 100$ a pound - and a cup of it might set you back 5$. Do yourself a favor. Broaden your mind and check it out.

November 21, 2007 Follow-up: Multiple newspaper and radio interviews later... It is interesting to see how the media has jumped all over this coffee. The story reads: The World's most expensive cup of coffee! Consumers forced to pay 15$ for a cup of coffee! Enough already!
I did a Macleans interview about a month ago that left me disgusted. What the journalist was looking for - and this did not occur to me right away - was: How have Canadian consumers been gouged, ripped-off, mislead by this coffee?

And I replied: I know of no vendors of this coffee that are "ripping people off" and besides, this is not the point.
The point is, as a result of an internet auction and a rare coffee being made available to the consuming public, children now have a medical clinic, a doctor, dental care and a school...

Ah, but no! We need to know how "we as consumers are being ripped off..."
And that is how the article read in Macleans magazine.

Bottom line folks: If you enjoy a glass of wine for 15 to 20$, then buy a cup of this coffee for $15. Enjoy it. Savor it. And then stop your crying!

A fellow coffeecrew writer, Mike Cave tried the coffee and noted the following:

"What a great and interesting coffee experience.
When Colin told me about this special coffee he had received and wanted me to try out I was, as always, looking forward to something new. I was definitely not expecting something quite so unique!
The taste reminds me of citrus fruit when it hits the tip of your tongue. The finish was incredibly smooth.

The body was full but not in the usual sense like a traditional coffee. There were none of the usual flavours in taste (e.g. Chocolate or caramel). It was almost refeshing and I have never been able to use that term to describe coffee. Thank you to Colin, for the great experience and the opportunity to try out something so different.

If I could, I would definitely buy more to share with other coffee lovers because it really isn't something that you can easily describe with words; it really is in the taste."

Discuss Panama La Hacienda Esmerelda Geisha here -

Colin Newell lives and works in Victoria B.C. Canada - his reports on cafe culture, specialty coffee and pop culture make for regular filler on the coffeecrew website.

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