Imagine opening up your bedroom window to see mountains covered in coffee trees. Imagine running across the drying beds at the mill, holding coffee cherries in your hands, and imagine having, from childhood, an awareness of the full process of coffee – bean to cup.
Gabe Peterson’s first job was picking coffee. He grew up on a coffee farm – and not just any farm, he grew up at Hacienda Esmeralda in Boquete, Panama. Arguably the world’s most famous coffee farm for re-discovering the geisha variety and bringing it to auction in 2004, Hacienda Esmeralda has been owned by Gabe’s family for decades.
Gabe’s grandfather bought the farm in the 1960s and moved there in the 1970s. After a couple decades of operating an animal farm, the Petersons began to more seriously cultivate coffee in the 1980s and 1990s. In the early 2000s, the Peterson family noticed a lot of coffee trees that were resistant to leaf rust. These were geisha trees, and when they roasted and brewed the coffee, they realized that these beans held incredible flavors within them, flavors that had never been tasted in coffee.
Geisha coffees are light-bodied, fruity, and tea-like. Their floral aromatics instantly ensnare the senses, making them the most sought-after, highest-priced beans on the market. And Hacienda Esmeralda was where it all started.
Gabe is now a senior at Goucher College, but he regularly goes back to the farm in Boquete, Panama, where his mother and sister live. His mother Rachel handles Hacienda Esmeralda’s marketing, sales, and client relations. It was Rachel that helped Todd coordinate last year’s exclusive Honey Geisha lot, a rare coffee due to both its variety and processing method.
Our biggest curiosity: What does a coffee farming family brew at home? Gabe told us, and it’s pretty low-key. They brew whatever beans are lying around, sometimes geisha but not the auction lots, of course. Brewing method? French Press.
Today we have a new geisha in the shop from Hacienda Esmeralda, and it’s every bit as delicious as we knew it would be. Grown at 1600-1800 meters and fully washed, this light, delicate coffee has surprising notes of lime blossom, honeysuckle, and tangerine. Get it here.