Coffee is native to the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, near the South Sudanese border. In the 1930s a seed collecting expedition was ordered by the Kenyan Director of Agriculture. The wild coffee forests of Ethiopia, being the birthplace of Arabica coffee, are rich in genetic diversity. The purpose of the expedition was to find coffee accessions that were appropriate for cultivation throughout the British Colonies. As cup profile (i.e. flavor) was of little-to-no consideration at the time, productivity and resistance to disease were the primary considerations when searching for appropriate varieties. Some coffee from the Gesha region of southwest Ethiopia made its way to Costa Rica via Tanzania and eventually ended up on the Peterson’s farm in Panama.
Nearly 75 years after that seed collection expedition, the Gesha variety was brought into the spotlight during the 2004 Best of Panama competition. It has remained in said spotlight since, enjoying 15 years as the world’s pre-eminent specialty coffee variety.
Beginning with the 2018 harvest, Passenger started purchasing both Wet and Dry Processed lots from La Esmeralda. While the Wet Processed coffee produced on this farm is elegant beyond compare and, further, an amazing display of the power of plant genetics and the role they can play in the finished product, the Dry Processed lots we have tasted from La Esmeralda have been equally interesting in their complexity of fruit flavor. The subtlety, florality, and nuance we love so much in the Wet Processed coffees is not present in the Dry Processed lots, but what we find in its place is explosive flavor and clean fruit complexity