Most coffee fans will perk up when they hear the word “Gesha”. Thoughts of delicate, floral coffees with unusual flavors flood their minds. They might expect high cupping scores, and higher prices. Geshas are typically exclusive, rare, super limited offerings available to only a few eager roasters with deep pockets. Coffees like this might feel unattainable, not just because they seem intimidating to roast but because there’s a natural hesitance to bring in an offering that will need to be inflated to a much higher retail price. Will my customers be willing to spend that much on a bag of coffee? What will I need to charge to break even? What if I want to make a profit?
This coffee is certainly special, but not for all the reasons that the archetypal Gesha offering is special. To start with, it’s not from Panama, Colombia, or Ethiopia, but from Bolivia. Bolivia is one of the smaller producers of specialty coffee, so their offerings are already a little more special due to lower availability.
Coffee Production in Boliva
As a smaller producer, Bolivia is less well-known for coffee than its neighbors in Latin America. The country also struggles economically with many farmers living in poverty. Coffee production is a necessity, along with other agricultural crops, as a steady source of income. When we purchased this offering, a letter from producer Juan Carlos Huanca was included. He explained that his family’s farm had suffered as a consequence of coca production in the region. The invasive plant used to produce illegal drugs had rendered the soil on many farms inhospitable to other fruit plants. Juan Carlos’ farm had also been struck by the Roya disease, which infects and kills coffee trees. Gesha varietals, while lower-yielding, are generally more resistant to la Roya.
Gesha at La Asunta: A calculated risk
In a desperate attempt to make an income by farming, Juan Carlos and his family turned to specialty coffee and a varietal that he knew would fetch a higher price. He planted Gesha trees on his land a few years ago and hoped that the fruits of that labor would yield positive results. The gamble paid off. La Asunta’s Gesha coffee is a combination of what we love about this special varietal and what the region of Bolivia is known for. In the cup, we enjoy the delicate fragrance and aroma, a silky body with tart acidity and balanced sweetness. The familiar elements of the Gesha varietal are there in a tea-like body, floral aromas, and sparkling acidity. The classic flavors of Bolivia come through in the rich, caramelized sweetness with notes like vanilla and toffee.
This coffee on your menu
We talk to roasters every week who want to bring boutique coffees on to their menu, but are worried about the overhead cost and the ability to sell a higher-priced offering. With this coffee, roasters have the opportunity to bring a Gesha varietal to their customers without having to charge $40 per 8oz. retail bag. This coffee is the perfect seasonal single-origin coffee for your pour-over menu, and would make a perfect “roasters’ reserve” coffee for holiday gift boxes (yes, it’s already time to start thinking about the holidays). Check out our profiles on RoastPATH for insights on roasting this coffee. As a high-elevation washed green, we approach it with a short and aggressive roast profile. These dense seeds take heat well, so we charge at a higher temp and use a high initial gas setting. We aim for a short time in development and a drop temperature in the low 400s.
We roast this coffee a lot like the way we roast washed coffees from Ethiopia. After all, that’s what it reminds us of the most. We can’t wait for you to try it and let us know what you think.
Find this Gesha coffee from Bolivia alongside our other single origin offerings.
Photos by Cafe Imports