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October 2013 Newsletter

There was an article in today's newspaper about "The best coffee in
the world". The coffee involved was a Panama Gesha, purchased by
Campos in Sydney at $378.00 a kilo green. This was the top coffee at
this year's "Best of Panama" auction, so "best in the world" might
be a tiny exaggeration. I estimate that the final roasted cost to
them will end up around $500.00 per kilo.

Retail price is anyone's guess, but a dollar a gram would be likely.
Depending on how it was brewed (definitely not espresso!) this would
make the final beverage cost around $60 - 100.00 a litre, expensive
but still a lot less than Grange Hermitage or similar premium wines.
The question, as one of my neighbours says, is "Is it worth it?" The
answer really does depend on what characteristics you find
attractive in a coffee.

I have tasted half a dozen Gesha coffees to date, from Panama,
Colombia and Guatemala. They all have similar characteristics:
1) high acidity
2) intense floral aroma
3) mild chocolate finish
4) very light body.

The roast level is also quite light by most standards, about the
same as our Café de Cuba roast. These are not coffees that can
retain their varietal character as dark roasts.

If fact, one of the most common comparisons I hear from other coffee
professionals tasting Geshas is not to other coffees, but to high
end teas. The Gesha varietal certainly makes exceptional coffee, in
the sense that it stands out from other coffees in terms of both
aroma and flavour. The question of value is entirely up to the
tastebuds of the buyer. Personally I'm not that fond of the straight
Gesha coffees, but that's because I'm biased towards big, rich, full
bodied coffees. My taste in wine tends the same way, I prefer a
monster shiraz to a flinty semillion, although I can appreciate and
critique both.

This month's special needs no introduction, because it certainly
sits on the "monster shiraz" side of the equation. It's the new crop

Costa Rica Tarrazu Miel

Rich coffee aroma, with sweet acid, smooth fruity mid palate and
creamy body, the coffee-est coffee you'll ever taste.

Speaking of Café de Cuba, one of my customers wondered why I hadn't
run out, after warning that last year's crop had suffered hurricane
damage in the February 2013 newsletter. It turns out that my
newsletters are more widely read than I'd imagined.

I was contacted by several roasters who "just happened to have a bit
of green Cuba laying about." It's a difficult coffee to roast well,
and as with the Gesha coffees too dark a roast will kill the
varietal taste. It's also relatively expensive, so bombing a couple
of batches can be an expensive exercise. When you do get it right,
you've got to be able to sell it profitably enough to remain in

The upshot is that some of the roasters who bought a couple of bags
seem to have found it difficult to sell. I've never had any
difficulty in selling Cuba, just in getting hold of sufficient
quantities for my needs, so their surplus became my lifeline.

Of course, there were the expected "negotiations" (read: gouging) on
price, as well as some pretty exorbitant freight charges (60 kilos
from Brisbane costs a lot, 60 kilos from Perth is just ridiculous)
but it looks like I've managed to scrape through, and the new crop
is due next week!

Until next month