Hacienda La Esmeralda - 2020 Dry Processed


Exotic aromas of grape jelly and raspberry cordial introduce an intensely sweet cup with flavors of chocolate, kiwi, mixed berries, and a lovely lavender note on the aftertaste.

The farm that made Gesha famous, Hacienda La Esmeralda has been a staple on Passenger’s Reserve Lot menu since our inception. 2020 represents our sixth season buying from this legendary farm.

For the past few years, it has been our custom at Passenger to save a few of our most extraordinary coffees, including our annual selections from legendary coffee estate Hacienda la Esmeralda, for a special holiday release that we usually unveil in November. At the time of writing, we are only about half-way through 2020, and, at risk of understatement, it has been an incredibly unusual year. One consequence of the novel Coronavirus pandemic has been that many individuals have spent the last weeks and months self-isolating at home, and drinking more and more coffee at home. Needless to say, we have sold out of our 2019 offerings from Hacienda la Esmeralda faster than ever this year! Over the past months, we have loved hearing from some of our friends and guests for whom a beautiful cup of coffee, carefully brewed at home, has become an especially significant ritual at a time when so many other rituals have been dramatically altered. Bearing all of this in mind we decided to release the 2020 Esmeralda lots, which have only recently arrived from Panama, a few months early this year. We hope that they will bring joy amidst challenging times.

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