Panama’s Geisha queen of gourmet coffee

PANAMA  remains the small kid on the block in  Central America in terms of volume and dollar value of coffee exports but when it comes to quality its producer’s reign supreme.

The country’s Geisha coffee, cultivated at a height of 1,500 meters above sea level, tops the exquisite list of Asian consumers with seemingly no end in sight for what they are prepared to pay for the aroma and taste of tropical fruits in the Panama grain.

A  pound of geisha in the Asian market costs between $15 and $35, depending on its properties, Wilford Lamastus, a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP) told La Prensa.

Coffee of the traditional Arabian variety produced by the lead exporters  Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica is quoted at $4 a pound.

But the price paid for a pound of Panamanian special category grain at the Best of Panama electronic auction averages above $60.

Last year Esmeralda Geisha Cañas Verdes Natural, cultivated in Hacienda La Esmeralda, set a record when quoted at $601 per pound and destined for well-heeled coffee lovers in Asia.

Thirty percent of local production for export is classified as special or gourmet.

The United States and Europe set their taste buds lower and buy a more commercial coffee, while delicacies like the geisha are sent mainly to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China.

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