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Please Note This coffee landed more than 8 months ago.
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This is a traditional washed Gesha cultivar coffee from Boquete, Panama, produced by Sonia Amoruso on Finca Lerida.
The flavor profile is lush and complex, with expressive jasmine, citrus blossom, and myriad other floral flavors and fragrances, accompanied by the taste of peach, apple, and mild citrus; it is an elegant and exceptional example of the classic cultivar.
Our roasters found the coffee to benefit from a gentle approach early in roasting and to largely benefit from a light roast level. It seemed very responsive to heat and airflow adjustments.
When brewed, our baristas found the roasts could be pushed to be brighter, or sweeter, or chocolatey, or more floral. It is complex and delicious and we are planning to keep it here in our Tasting Room to keep exploring its aesthetic contours, moving it between our pour over bar and our espresso station.
Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman
Stop and smell the flowers, recommends Evan Gilman, our Creative Director and Home Roasting Specialist. This is an evocative floral coffee, elegant and a little complicated but exceptionally clean and refined. Our quality team, baristas, roasters, and cuppers compiled an encyclopedic array of flavors, ranging from jasmine to orange blossom, rose water to hibiscus, lilac, bergamot, white tea, cardamom, and even cardamom and a refreshing hint of cucumber water.
With more than just florality to offer, the coffee has a lively, balanced malic acidity, reminding us of apple juice, fresh cranberries, peaches, quince and pear. Sugary sweet, effortlessly clean, complex, and nuanced, this coffee just about has everything you’d hope for from a washed Gesha.
Production Assistant Doris Garrido was transported to fields of lime trees she recalled from childhood, and Barista Colin Cahill was surprised and delighted by its flexibility during dialing brews. And me? I’ve eaten my words, this Gesha proves the cultivar still has the power to excite, invigorate and refresh even this cynical coffee guy.
Keep a batch handy for pour-over in the morning, and share it with a friend. But don’t discount other brewing choices; we’re going to explore this coffee’s potential for espresso in the Tasting Room in December. It’s one of our favorite coffees of the year, and we’re thrilled to highlight it.
Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger & Chris Kornman
Panama’s Gesha cultivar, originally descended from a landrace collected in the district of Gesha, near Ethiopia’s Keffa Forest, has had a niche marketplace all to itself for over 15 years. Of all the many attempts to cultivate the original Gesha’s genetics across the Americas, many coffee tasters still believe nowhere is it better expressed than where it was first debuted: the Boquete valley in western Panama, under the command of the Barú volcano’s very specific soil and climate. Almost entirely as a result of Gesha’s success, Panama is now an origin that constantly makes headlines in the specialty coffee world, mostly for the astounding auction prices in each year’s Best of Panama cupping competition, which now features dozens of Gesha microlots processed a kaleidoscopic number of ways.
At Royal we are privileged to have a perennial relationship with Finca Lerida, a 900-acre estate in the famed Boquete growing region nestled under the ecological wonderland of Volcán Barú where over 550 species of birds make their home. Barú itself is an active stratovolcano that is Panama’s highest peak and the centerpiece of a 35,000 acre national park. In this area, tucked into the Continental Divide, Pacific and Caribbean winds alternate at different times of the year creating cooler temperatures, overlapping rainy periods, and limited dry months. The result is an extremely lush and diverse microclimate where coffee—along with a number of tropical fruits—tends to thrive.
The Lerida Estate has an impressive history and rich heritage. Sometime around 1920, the land was sold by a local farmer to a man named Tollef Bache Monniche. Monniche, a Norwegian, found himself in Panama after immigrating to the United States and accepting work as a lead engineer on the Panama Canal Project. Upon his retirement, he sought a quiet existence, so he and his wife, Julia Huger, moved to the farm in Los Naranjos, a neighborhood just north of the town of Boquete in Chiriquí, Panama.
Once settled, the couple began cultivating fruits and vegetables and eventually developing much of the farm into a coffee plantation. Their first major harvest in 1929 yielded an impressive quality that sold to Germany and sparked a global interest in the region’s coffee. Monniche’s engineering background led to the development of a siphoning device used in processing to separate low density coffee; the invention became popular in the region and replicas can still be found in use today. Among his other impressive hobbies, Monniche’s penchant as a naturalist led to cataloging the snakes and birds of the region, and his collection of wildfowl was acquired by Chicago’s Museum of Natural History.
In 1956, the aging couple returned to the United States and sold the 365 hectare estate to Alfredo and Inga Collins, who in turn sold it to Sonia Amoruso and her husband in 2009. The property includes a vintage hotel with amenities that equal the valley’s natural beauty, and which serves as a landmark to local history and has been a source of income for the estate for generations. The hotel was the primary focus when Sonia’s family first purchased the estate. However Sonia, originally planning to manage hospitality, was quickly captured by the estate’s coffee production and has managed the coffee operations ever since. For more, see our producer interview with Sonia here.
Sonia works with 30 year-round employees and another 60 people who meticulously pick ripe cherry during the harvest. Lerida’s central wet mill is as old as the farm itself, and fresh-picked cherry is still sorted for under-ripes and damages using the siphon invented by the original owner in the 1920s. Then the coffee is depulped, fermented, washed, and carefully dried on covered patios and raised bed. Finca Lerida also has housing and a school for employees and their families.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Those familiar with Gesha coffee grown in Panama will be unsurprised by the precise green metrics offered here by this lovely selection from Lerida Estate. It has a slightly large and well-sorted screen size, and offers the recognizable oblong bean shape; not as narrow as a Typica nor as broad as a Pacamara. The density registers on the low side as a result of the bean shape, true density is likely a little greater than measured by free settling. The coffee is also very nicely dried at 10% moisture and very stable water activity.
The origins of Gesha are well-trod territory by now, having made its way from selections in western Ethiopia in the 1930s to Central America by the 1950s and 60s, before being recognized for its quality potential on the Petersons’ coffee farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda, in 2004. The tree was in fact first prized for its resistance to rust (a status which it has since lost), and multiple collections were made. The reference sample from CATIE’s original 1953 collection (labelled T2722) is not a perfect match to many trees now labelled “Ge(i)sha” in the field (undoubtedly at least partly related to its selection from the heart of coffee’s genetic diversity). It seems likely that the cultivar’s genetic diversity, combined with its explosion of popularity over the last 15 years, contributes to a broadening range of flavor profiles and qualities.
Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Chris Kornman & Doris Garrido
Having successfully dialed a recent Gesha from Guatemala on our Diedrich roaster, including a fun run as our light roast batch brew in the Tasting Room, I handed Production Assistant Doris Garrido the green and asked her to work with the existing roast recipe, noting anything that came up in the roast of this similar bean from Panama.
The profile draws on my years of experience working with nerve-rackingly expensive coffees in tiny quantities in the pre-2010 era, when the cultivar was still new on the scene to most roasters. Observing trends as we put small batches through trial and production roasts on a vintage cast-iron machine, the team I worked with and I began to develop a plan for this unique and special coffee type.
The cultivar has a tendency to scorch if exposed to elevated temperatures early in the roast, so taking a gentle approach early in the profile is preferable. As a result, or perhaps in combination with other physical metrics like moisture and density, the coffee will seem to resist heat during early Maillard stage. The roast is going to feel sluggish at first, yet in truth the coffee is going to run away from you if you press it too hard. Trust your instincts and keep Maillard on pace for at least 30% of your total roast time. You’ll need to actively manage your heat at the end of the profile, anticipating first crack and letting the beans develop color with a low rate of rise, between 10-15 degrees per minute once crack begins, decreasing towards the end of roast.
The 5.5 lb profile Doris executed expertly here starts with a moderate charge temperature and stable environment. The burners are at 30%, our lowest setting, with a 50% airflow baffle – this is roughly the machine’s idle setting. A full two minutes into the roast, at the turnaround, is where you should start to think about heat adjustments. Doris kicked up the burners to 70%.
Color change in the profile came late, at about five-and-a-half minutes, and here’s where Doris opened up the airflow fully through the drum. She held the burners at 70% briefly before edging down the heat delta in anticipation of first crack. Here, Doris noted that the coffee is exceptionally and immediately responsive to heat and airflow adjustments in the Diedrich, a bit of a rarity as many coffees offer sluggish response to operator adjustments on this roaster.
Preferring a light roast on this cultivar to bring out the floral notes and highlight the inherent complexity, Doris effortlessly navigated the final roasting stages, spending around 80-90 seconds after first crack in a low heat environment, allowing the exhaust and bean temperature to align at precisely the moment she dropped the batch in the cooling tray.
The roast was picture perfect, and the cup was extravagent. Excessive floral notes like hibiscus, jasmine, and orange and lime blossom were evident in both fragrance and flavor, followed by idiosyncratic fruit flavors of peach, mild citrus, and a hint of candied ginger. Doris’s smile beamed across the cupping table at me, and we waxed poetic about the beans, the roast, and the brew.
What a damn coffee, a coffee dreamer’s coffee. Put a good plan in place, follow it, and trust your gut with this exceptional offering. Happy roasting!
Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.
Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 195C / 383F preheating, P2 power, F4 fan, and D6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing!
For this week’s roasts, I decided to use a more realistic median batch size for the Bullet, 500g. I really wanted to do this Panama Gesha justice, not only because of the name, but also because of the long relationship that Royal has with Finca Lerida. This is a glorious coffee, and while it does appreciate a light touch, it wasn’t finicky to roast at all.
I started this roast with the standard 383F charge temperature, but with F4 fan until turning point, when I reduced to a minimal F1 fan speed. I slowly ramped up to F2 at yellowing, then F3 shortly thereafter, F4 a little before crack, and F5 for my post-crack development. Easy peasy.
From the outset (and for the vast majority of this roast) I used P7 power, just letting the coffee soak up the heat all the way through the roast. I only reduced heat application to P6 just before first crack, and then to P5 for post-crack development. What could be simpler?
This one is probably my most successful roast to date despite a little peakiness of rate of rise later in the roast. 38% of time was spent in green/drying, 48% in Maillard, and 12% in post-crack development. This is pretty much textbook of what I personally like to see for a first roast of a coffee – but don’t take my word for it! There are many schools of thought on how a coffee should be roasted, and this is just my own.
Brewing this coffee, I ended up grinding a bit too fine, and found that my tasting notes were much like Colin’s below. Tons of sweetness was apparent in the cup, but a certain sticky and somewhat drying mouthfeel accompanied my way-too-strong, too-quickly-extracted brew. Upon coming back to this coffee with a coarser grind in the Chemex, I found that florals peeked out from beneath the heavy sweetness, with Bosc pear-like crisp acidity, and just a touch of rose petal (the orange colored roses, if you’re a fan of stopping to smell the flowers like I am).
Try brewing this coffee with slightly cooler water, and maybe even try some bypass brewing. It’s a sipper, and I definitely recommend it for filter drip and single origin offerings where it will get appreciated for all its unique glory. I loved this cup from hot to cold, and I think you will too.
Brew Analysis by Colin Cahill
We have been spoiled by the dynamic, tasty Gesha lots coming in so far this year, yet this particular coffee caught me by surprise! With characteristic fruity and floral notes, this Gesha from Finca Lerida is so so clean with well-balanced acidity, sweetness, and body. We pulled both our Bullet and Diedrich roasts into the tasting room for brew analysis on this. Brewed at relatively similar recipes on the Hario V60, this coffee was complex and delicious.
The Bullet roast—dosed at 18 grams and ground at an 8 on our EK43—brewed up clean with a crisp malic acidity, highlighting apple and quince flavors. Layered on top of those notes were round, soft notes of rose petals, hints of jasmine and lilac, a touch of cucumber, the sweetness of honey, and a lingering anise note. This V60 brew shocked us with its complexity, offering sweet, juicy fruit notes, fragrant floral notes, and hints of spice—diverse yet complementary notes. Ground on a finer setting, we saw an increase in the malic acidity, enhancing the dry-yet-juicy quince taste, and adding more weight to the brew’s body. With a finer grind, cocoa notes became more pronounced and the floral notes were diminished. Minor dials in grind size and dose, or swapping brewing devices, can really push this coffee towards different flavor profiles to suite different palates or occasions.
The Diedrich roast following a similar brew recipe, but with a slightly coarser grind size, brewed up sweet and juicy. The brew had clear notes of apple juice and crispy pear, softer floral notes like lilac, aromatic spice notes (with cardamom dominating), and a heavier sweetness of caramel and brown sugar. This juicier brew with a slightly higher TDS reading seemed to lose a bit of the mouthfeel of malic acid while still carrying tasty apple and quince flavors. This is a coffee that can be pushed to be brighter, or sweeter, or chocolatey, or more floral. It is complex and delicious and we are planning to keep it here in our tasting room to keep exploring its aesthetic contours, moving it between our pour over bar and our espresso station.