If you have been by Van Dyke lately, you might have seen that we have a Panama Esmeralda Geisha for sale. You might also notice that it is just slightly (read: much) more expensive than the rest of the coffees that we sell. To put it in perspective, an 8 oz. bag of geisha sells for $50 at the shop, while a regular bag of beans, which is 12 oz, sells for around $15. This is not a difference to be ignored but also, not one to look at with out questioning.
The first thing that we need to look at is what Geisha actually is. If we don't have a firm grasp of what the coffee is, how can we truly appreciate what we will be drinking?
Geisha Coffee is a varietal of coffee that originated in Africa but was moved over to Central America. This coffee did not do well for quite a while and was widely regarded as a bad varietal. In 2004 a farm from Panama entered a Geisha Varietal into the Cup of Excellence competition and completely dominated the competition.
The main difference between the failed Geisha and the Geisha that blew the competition away was the elevation in which the coffee was grown. Geisha requires a very high elevation and thus the difficulty of growing this coffee increases.
Geisha coffee, due to the popularity, has become one of the more difficult coffees to find on the market. It is usually a limited release and the buyers usually have to pay a premium for the beans. Both of these factors tend to drive the price of Geisha up (and in many's opinion, through the roof).
For Van Dyke, we were lucky enough to get a bag of Esmeralda Geisha, which is one of the most well regarded farms for Geisha. We also had to pay a premium for the coffee (approx. 6x the amount we pay for our single origin beans). As much as a $50 bag of beans might scare off the typical customer, it is actually a pretty typical price across the specialty coffee scene.
Now what is the role of Geisha in our coffee industry right now?
Geisha is not your everyday cup of joe that you run through the auto drip in the morning. It isn't a coffee that you use for a single origin espresso. It isn't even a coffee you should put through your french press. Of course, if you want to any of these three, I will not stop you.
What Geisha is truly meant to do is to be savored. It is a coffee that we are to experience not just guzzle down to get our caffeine fix. It is a coffee that we make sure to measure twice and cut once. It is a coffee that we weigh to the hundredth of an oz, measure the water to an exact ml, and time to the very second of brewing. Geisha is the pinnacle of the specialty coffee world, and we ought to treat it as such.
Geisha is worth fussing over.
Specialty Coffee has recently become one of the buzz words of the coffee community. So why is this word buzzing more than a bee during the summer? Let's find out!
With the rise of third wave coffee* there has also been a rise in hand made pour over coffee in shops. One of the main reasons for this is the ability to control the water temperature.
If you ever decided to do a little experiment on your auto drip machine at home or your single cup coffee maker and you measure the water temperature, you will find something very interesting. You will find that a lot of the machines out there will be brewing the coffee around ~170 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn't that interesting, until you realize that the suggested temperature by the Specialty Coffee Association of America is 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. These are the temperatures required in order to get the correct extraction from coffee.
So what should you do about it? If you make coffee via pour over or french press, you are probably doing the right thing by bringing the coffee to a boil and then letting it sit for thirty seconds or so. If you are still using an auto drip machine, it would be best to boil the water first and then brew the pot. Or, if you are O.K. with spending a little bit of cash, you can buy an auto drip machine that is certified by the SCAA. If you are using a single serve pod machine, I would suggest buying a french press.
So what temperature should you be using? 195-205 is a fairly big range. As easy as it would be to give a definitive number, it just isn't plausible. Van Dyke uses 203 degrees while at home I (Drew) use 208 degrees (208 degrees is ok because the coffee does cool a bit when added to the coffee grounds). I would, however, suggest using something above 200 degrees as your final water temperature as it does cool when added to the coffee grounds.
So here is a quick checklist of things to get your coffee temp up to par:
*Third wave coffee is the new movement of coffee which focuses on freshly roasted beans, lighter roasted coffee, fair or direct trade, and single origin coffees.
Many people try and sell you on "the fool proof way to have a better life." This is not what I am trying to do today, I am simply helping you make a better cup of coffee in the morning.