Producer Spotlight: Garrido Coffee
The Geisha Variety from Garrido Coffee
I have spent the last six years visiting with farmers in Latin America.
As such, I am regularly invited to buy bulk conventional and organic green coffee. While I do drink some coffee, I tend to stick to fruit.
However, a visit to the world-class coffee region of Boquete, Chiriquí, Panama inspired me to take a deeper look.
I appreciate quality coffee. However, my experience in coffee was generally one of necessity. In the past, I drank coffee early in the morning to wake up and start working. Or, I drank coffee socially during meetings.
Naturally, I could taste the difference between coffee brewed at Blue Bottle and coffee from Dunkin Donuts. (Sorry, Dunkin Donuts.) However, I never ventured into the world of pristine coffee experience. I had often seen the $10 coffees on the menu in coffee shops in San Francisco, California and wondered who pays that much for coffee—and why.
Now, after visiting Garrido Coffee in Boquete, Panama, I understand.
David Garrido, the owner and operator of Garrido Coffee, was kind enough to give me and my father a tour of his coffee farm. We were invited to a tasting of his coffee varieties.
The geisha coffee has earned a reputation for being a smooth, deep-flavored coffee. It has flower and fruit aromas and a range of taste nodes. Legend has it that the most expensive bulk wholesale coffee ever purchased at a coffee auction was geisha from Panama. A buyer from Asia paid over $300 for just one pound.
On my visit, I first got a tour of the geisha coffee farm. We were located at exactly 1,500 meters above sea level. Geisha coffee grows alongside the more common caturra variety. Worms and other beneficial insects crowd the rich volcanic soil.The coffee leaves and branches quickly decompose to become a naturally rich fertilizer. David explains that to get the perfect flavor, he uses a bit of artificial fertilizer. This provides the exact deployment of nutrients. The plants are grown in partial shade. They are surrounded by a biological corridor of native forest and streams.
When it is harvest time, the pickers harvest only the geisha plants first. This ensures a 100% pure geisha harvest. On the second and third harvests, they harvest geisha and caturra beans together, creating geisha blends.
High Scoring Garrido Coffee Blends
After my tour of the geisha farm, we went for a cupping of their different lots and blends.
Garrido has a cupping room featuring artisanal small-scale roasting. They lined up eight different roasted beans in glass containers on a large round table. One by one, they ground the beans then poured.
We started with the blends. These have scores of around 88-89. From a metal spoon, we sipped loudly, oxygenating the liquid—embracing the experience in full. I noted the smells, taste, and overall experience. The 88-score blend had a light floral fragrance and a mellow coffee flavor. The blend is delicious, but I had tried coffees in that range before.
Coffee Is Fruit, Actually
We advanced around the table, sampling the other varieties. The scores advanced as well. The flavors were increasingly fragrant. The blends had a range of floral and fruity notes that hit different areas of the palette.
As a novice to world-class coffee, I was in complete shock that the coffee with scores of 94 and up literally tasted like fruits. The 94-score resembled pineapple. The 96-score coffee felt like drinking a cup of ripe, wild blueberries.
Garrido’s coffee is available wholesale, green, in small batches. They ship to exquisite coffee purveyors in major metropolitan areas around the world.
This experience taught me that fine coffee is in many ways like fine wine. From the growing, to processing, to pouring, to tasting, there is a deep culture present. Every detail makes a difference as you transcend from a score in the mid-to-high 80s (considered high quality) up into the 90s.
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