Review: Square One Panama La Esmerelda Gesha (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)

I picked up this bag of Square One at a Gregorys Coffee location in New York City, and I have been impatiently looking forward to tasting it. Now, for those who are not aware, Gesha (or Geisha – it’s spelled both ways and no one seems to know which way is “right”) coffees have a reputation for being extra-special compared to “regular” coffees. The La Esmerelda farm in Panama produces some of the most sought-after Gesha beans in the world, with prices for the top-grade beans (Esmerelda Special) sometimes topping $100/lb roasted. This particular bag, which was identified on the Square One website as an Esmerelda Boquete, is from the “second-tier” of the Esmerelda Farm. These beans, while still expensive at $20/12 oz, are a relative bargain as they exhibit many of the same qualities as the top-tier Esmerelda Special but didn’t quite meet the criteria for that classification.

This actually is the second Gesha I’ve had the opportunity to try. The first was at the first coffee cupping I ever attended years ago, and I remember thinking that coffee was extremely delicate, more akin to tea than coffee. I was underwhelmed then because I was a fan of thick, dark, assertive brews at the time, but my tastes have changed and I was very curious to see what I would think of this coffee.

This was not a typical tasting for me as I chose to open this bag at a coffee cupping I hosted at my home, so I did not brew this in multiple methods. During the cupping, we brewed the coffee closest in style to French press, as I ground the coffee coarsely and let it steep for 4 minutes before we tasted. However, prior to brewing, we all smelled the freshly ground coffee and I think my fellow cuppers can attest to the fact that I had a huge, silly grin on my face. This coffee smells DELICIOUS. It had such a sweet, candy-esque fragrance to it that I remarked that I don’t think I would have been able to identify it as coffee if blindfolded. Very striking aromas – a little bit tropical with warm spice.

This was such a complex coffee that was unlike almost anything I had ever tasted so it was very difficult to pin down the flavors. After steeping the coffee, I tasted the brew and wrote: Incredibly sweet. Cherry? Cardamom.

Other observations from the other tasters: Nutty, sweet aroma. Baked goods. Sweet, fruity. Brighter, increased fruit flavor as it cools. Raspberry and vanilla cake.

We may not have matched the tasting notes from the roaster at all, but I think this just says more about the complexity of this coffee vs. our palates (at least, that’s what I’d like to think, haha).

I was the only one of the four of us to know what we were drinking, since we cupped the coffees “blind” and I only revealed what they were after we finished. Of the four coffees we cupped that day, this was the favorite of three out of the four tasters. We proceeded to brew a Chemex full of this Gesha, and it was stunning. I like to order and purchase a wide variety of coffee and I rarely buy the same coffee twice within a few months, but this coffee blew me away enough that I placed an online order for another bag right after we finished our cupping. It is THAT good. If you have always wanted to try a Gesha but have been scared away by the $50-65/8 oz price, try this one!!

Edited to add: Over the span of a week or so, I tried this coffee in all my usual methods (V60, AeroPress, Chemex, french press). It was good all ways, but shone most in the french press. What a beauty.

From the roaster: Honeysuckle, almond, plum

Square One La Esmerelda Panama Gesha

3 Replies to “Review: Square One Panama La Esmerelda Gesha (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)”

  1. Perfect write up! I couldn’t agree more… totally delish!!!

    1. I’m so glad you could be at the cupping, Victor! 🙂

  2. So glad I got to try this one…delicious! Thanks for sharing the other day!

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