History of Geisha Cultivar

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#1: Post by RMiguel »

[Split off from Acetanago Geisha]

this Acatenango geisha is likely heirloom. the geisha is very rare it seems, but not only existing in Panama there were experimental plantings on farms exist elsewhere. i suspect in most of Latin America. it was not discovered in Panama per se. Don Pachi brought it from the CATIE research station in Costa Rica in the early 1960's, it was already well known to have some slight rust resistance and while rust wasnt yet in Panama at the time it was brought to Panama as a bit of insurance. Don Pachi gave it to other farmers in Boquete back then on the lands that are now Esmeralda and Mama Cata. because of its rust resistance it has been used in many breeding programs around the world to develop rust resistant hybrids from the 1950's on. and likely test plots of pure geisha exist in many of the countries that had this cultivar, Costa Rica, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, Costa Rica. the acatenango geisha may be a little more recent than the Panama geisha. when i was in Jamaica this summer i was surprised to find geisha there, and old geisha. trees were 25 years old+ apparently brought from Panama by the Jamaica coffee board and given to a few farms to try. doesnt seem to uncommon there now, i saw trees of various ages driving though the blue mountains. although the Jamaica coffee board doesnt like it discourages planting anything but typica. Jamaica like most countries in Latin America is a member of PROMOCAFE and the geisha may have been distributed to all it's members in the late 70's or early 80's

anyone who has seen geisha can tell you it is not consistent in its morphology. it does seem to always maintain a vertical architecture many ethiopian cultivars have but may have copper or green new leaves and bean size and shape varies. not all trees have long narrow beans. hybrid plants tend to behave like that in the subsequent generation. geisha originally was not a single varietal but a collection of several plants frm the geisha area of ethiopia. what seems to have been distributed to CATIE was from a plant or series of plants called geisha 10. may have been a pure line selection may have been a hybrid of different geisha plants... hard to find research info from Kenya and Tanzania from the 1950's

I tried the Acatenango Geisha from Sweet Marias last year. very nice coffee. definitely a good example of the floral and citric qualities of this cultivar. this may not be part of the new plantings of geisha but expect to see some popping up all over soon. i suspect from atleast a few farms in Central America this year. certainly from more farms in Panama, now whether these coffees end up in the American market might be a different story.
R. Miguel Meza
Isla Coffee/Rusty's Hawaiian Ka'u Coffee/Hula Daddy Kona Coffee

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#2: Post by another_jim »

Hi Miguel, thanks for the proper history. The Geisha's use for rust resistance makes sense of why nobody back then became interested in its taste.
Jim Schulman

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RMiguel (original poster)
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#3: Post by RMiguel (original poster) »

taste is the least of the concern in coffee breeding programs. yield, disease resistance and physical bean quality are primary concerns. geisha was just one of a half a dozen ethiopian lines used in breeding experiments for rust resistance. these varietals may not be rust resistant now. problem with leaf rust is it mutates and evolves faster than breeding programs can keep up. it takes over a decade to develop a new cultivar. also quite likely the taste may not have been exemplary because of where they were planted. geisha seems to only display its intense flavours in certain environments. even at lower elevations in Panama it isnt terribly distinct. research stations in India and Brazil certainly would have been to low for it to be anything special. even in Costa Rica i don't believe the CATIE station is that high maybe 1200M? not sure about Kenya and Tanzania. also not 100% sure if the geisha selections in Brazil in India are the same as accession at CATIE. there seem to have been at least 10-12 lines of geisha originally back in Africa. havent looked into the history of the accessions at other research stations, just the CATIE accession.
R. Miguel Meza
Isla Coffee/Rusty's Hawaiian Ka'u Coffee/Hula Daddy Kona Coffee

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#4: Post by MattJ »

The main CATIE campus outside of Turrialba is only about 600m above sea level although I do not know where they developed this cultivar.

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#5: Post by farmroast »

Selection becomes a crap shoot when you can't really trace the lines very far back and how it fared along the way or was crossed with. Understanding the health(the life along with nutrients) in the soils seems to be an interesting new approach to disease resistance on many types of farms. Spray application of compost tea brews show some promise to remedy imbalances. And the organic product can be made simply, on the farm. I don't know if any of this has been tried with coffee yet.
LMWDP #167 "with coffee we create with wine we celebrate"