A 100 lb lot of a natural processed Geisha from the famous Hacienda La Esmeralda sold for a world record breaking $601 per pound; for a total price of $60,100.

What is Geisha?

Image: haciendaesmeralda.om

I’m sure you’ve heard of Arabica and Robusta coffees. Well Geisha is a varietal of arabica that was originally cultivated in the late 1930’s around the Ethiopian town of Gesha. The coffee started to gain popularity when the same producer mentioned above, Hacienda La Esmeralda, entered a coffee competition with one of their Geishas. The cup was so unique and unusual  that it ended up attracting a high bid of $21lb. Sense then Geisha’s have been the go to coffee for coffee competitions with their dynamic floral and aromatic cups. While there are some other great varieties the Geisha takes the stage with it’s unique flavor profile. You might be wondering, what is a  natural processed coffee? What that means is that they let the fruit of the coffee cherry dry onto the bean before they process or wash it off. This imparts a widely fruit forward flavor. I’ve had some natural lots that taste like someone added blueberries or strawberries to the cup.

Who are Hacienda La Esmeralda?

Hacienda La Esmeralda is a coffee farm/producer from Panama. In 1967 a Swedish banker Rudolph Peterson bought the Hacienda La Esmeralda farm. At the time it was mostly a cattle ranch with a little bit of coffee spread around here and there. In the late 1980’s the Peterson family decided to diversify their farm and to start producing more coffee. But it wasn’t until the mid 1990’s when American coffee roasters were starting to look for speciality coffees did the Peterson’s turn their focus to producing the world’s highest quality coffees. As a bit of luck would have it the Peterson’s decided to plant this rare varietal of coffee on a new high altitude farm they acquired on Volcan Baru. This would then lead to the 2004 competition coffee and the rest is history.

Typical 3rd Wave Craft Coffee

Image @TwoRiversCoffee

Let’s break that down to per cup of coffee price of this natural processed Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda. If you walk into your local roaster to buy a cup of coffee. Here are some average numbers, now these will vary a bit but will better to help us understand the cost of this Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda.

12oz Coffee – Single Origin – Pour Over : $3.50

21g of coffee used to brew the 12 oz cup.

3.5/21= .16 cents per gram of coffee retail.



Quality Green Coffee

If you were not aware, green coffee is freshly processed coffee that you then roast or simply, un-roasted coffee. Looking at a quality coffee importer I found a really nice Natural Processed Ethiopian for $4.92 per pound. Now that may not sound like a lot but at the time the Hacienda La Esmeralda was sold the international coffee price was at $1.31 a pound. Here we are at 4x that amount, but we all know what kind of coffee you get at $1.31 a pound.

4.92/16= .30 cents per ounce.

1oz = 28g

.30 cents/28g = .01 cents per gram (1 to 2 beans are close to a gram)

This tells us that by the time the coffee is roasted and then served to you there is about a 16x mark up in the price. Now before you go on thinking, “Man I need to open a coffee shop”, there is a lot of over head running a coffee shop and the margins at the end day are not at 16x. But what this will do is help us to understand what the cost would be for you to enjoy this Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda.

A 12oz cup of Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha

601/16oz (in one pound) = $37.56 per once

1oz = 28g

$37.56/28g = $1.34 per gram or $1.34 per bean

If there is roughly a 16x mark up to roast, brew and serve in the final cup of coffee

21g per cup x $1.34 per gram = $28.17

Now this was just a rough calculation and we’re not taking into account the cost of water, electricity, the cup, lid or the sleeve. If we were being generous we could cover our costs at around .75 cents. Thus to enjoy a cup of the Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha it would cost you $27.42. This may even be low balling the price as you are going to pay a premium for the roaster, as you don’t want just any roaster putting this coffee to heat and the barista and cafe that are going to serve it to you. In reality we are probably looking closer to $34 a cup.

Why this is exciting news

The reason this is so exciting is that we have farmers and producers all over the world taking note of this recorded breaking price. As such we will start to see more and more producers focusing on coffee quality over quantity. This imparts a big responsibility on roasters to develop the right relationships and help us sustain the trend towards higher quality coffees. Which also in turns generates a better quality of living for the producer.


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