Thursday, November 10, 2005


elegant geishas, part iii

long-time readers may recall c-member and long-time bccy pal jim schulman's ode to the panama geisha. and i myself wrote about this elegant coffee in june.

what came completely unannounced in the mail today but a beautiful wooden box from batdorf filled with their new medium-roast "latitudes" super-premium beans? thanks forever, jessica and roastmaster scott!

the geisha grows in boquete at 1450-1700 meters on the hacienda la esmeralda estate, which sits on the slopes of the baru volcano. it's been cultivated with care for the last 3 generations by the peterson family.

yes, this is the jaramillo especial coffee that won the panama cupping competition for the last 2 years in a row! the geisha variety isn't one of these heavy-producing but taste-impaired hybrids.

rather, it's a rare coffee that is often considered too-low-yielding to be commercially useful. but the secret is that the geisha produces some of the sweetest, highest-quality coffee in the world when properly cultivated.

scott roasted this to a ground agtron of 68. (that's a standard/light city roast to you!)

also in the box was a bag of the coffee that won this year's famed ethiopian internet auction, a natural ethiopian yrg from the kello co-op of the yrgacheffe union. long-time readers know that yrg is one of my favorite coffees, so i'm looking forward to sampling this one with great excitement.

this is another extremely rare coffee, with a production of only 19 bags. period. scott roasted this to a ground agtron of 65.

both of these are incredibly special coffees, the equivalent of the finest vintages of wine, but much cheaper! i can't wait to rush home, grind 'em fresh, and brew them up in the vac pot.

you'll hear the first report tomorrow, i promise. in the meantime, know that these are both reputed to be absolutely amazing coffees.

if i were you, i wouldn't wait. . .the new latitudes line includes a third coffee, if you're not a fan of either panama or yrg.

scott and jessica are also offering a wet-process, sun-dried el salvador, the siberia pacamara, which at a ground agtron of 63.4 (that's a full-city roast to you!), has a huge buzz about its sweet, brown-sugar, raisin quality (this is scott's personal favorite of the 3). . .it's a cup of excellence prize-winner from chalchuapa, ahuachapan, grown at 1450 m. on a family farm that's existed since the 1870s.

now let's have a quick chat about the price: yes, the geisha is US$38, which is about what you might pay for a truly fine super tuscan. and that bottle of super tuscan will give you about 4-6 glasses of fine wine, which comes to oh, say about US$6.30 a glass.

but those 12 oz. of panama beans will make about 30 6 oz. cups of coffee, meaning you'll pay just about US$1.25 per cup, or just slightly more than the cost of a can of soda from a deli in nyc. in short, it's a steal.

more importantly, it means that the farmers who lovingly grow these amazing coffees will finally get the real market value for their beans as a gourmet, specialty product. the end of the so-called "coffee crisis" is in our cups!

let me quickly note, however, that the other coffees are much less: the yrg and el salvador are just US$18. which makes them super, super steals for such quality.

anyway, scott admits that these coffees were a pleasure and a challenge to roast; he recommends due to the unique nature of these beans that you be sure to measure them by weight, not volume. this is because the pacamaras especially are such large beans after roasting.

you remember the magic lingle coffee constant, right? multiply the amount of water you're using to brew by 0.057; the result is the weight of the beans you should use for non-espresso brewing. (it's about a 17:1 ratio.)

that should get you in the ballpark and you can adjust to your own taste from there. finally, scott highly recommends trying that el salvador or geisha as a single-origin espresso.

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