6

Being probably the highest priced coffee bean varietal out there currently, it makes me wonder what exactly causes the Gesha/Geisha varietal to be so expensive?

Is it the delicate nature of the plant causing it to yield only in the most specific of climates? Is it due to its availability as a lesser grown type? Is it simply due to it's quality?

4

Geisha is so pricey because of a lot of marketing true. However it is extremely difficult to grow. On a farm is Costa Rica this past June the farmer was having a difficult time with his because the root system is not as robust as other Arabicas. Another reason for the price is that the yields per bush are lower.

Here is a good article on it: Geisha Coffee According to a 4th Generation Panama Producer

  • Thanks for the article, some interesting info in there. I'd still argue though, that the biggest part of the price difference stems from making the Geisha/Gesha coffee something more special than other varieties (marketing). I'm sure out of the dozens of Arabica varieties and cultivars there are others that are similarly difficult to grow and score as high in tastings, yet they cost only a fraction. This is not to say that Geisha is not special, I'm sure it does taste great and different from other varieties. – avocado1 Dec 7 '16 at 12:43
  • Actually WCR is doing a lot of research in getting different varietals into different climates. Mostly for genetic diversity, but also for cup quality. They might find that new "Geisha" by doing research to help make "heirloom" varieties more sturdy. worldcoffeeresearch.org/work/… – roasterbob Dec 7 '16 at 13:30
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There's a very nice story on the origins of Gesha variety on Sweet Maria's website.

It's known that Gesha is an Arabica species and one of the Ethiopian varieties. Based on the story, this variety is moved to Panama by chance and grown there which enhances its flavor. However, right after this discovery, Ethiopia limits exports of coffee seeds.

(From this point on, I only make a guess.) This may lead limited number of enhanced trees outside Ethiopia. Therefore, the price may increase.

3

As an economist I'd argue it's a mix of scarcity and good marketing. Actually it was first planted as a more resistent variety to leaf rust on one farm in Panama (Esmeralda). They took it from Ethiopia, so it must grow under different conditions (guessing it has to be above 1500m like all Arabica coffees). This actually implies that it might even be less complicated to grow than some other Arabica varieties, leading to the conclusion that it cannot be due to the difficulty of growing it.

The quality is definitely very good, since it was winning prices as "the best of Panama" since 2004. It also scores consistently above 90 (exceptional quality) in the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) score. However there are other coffees that score as high or higher and cost only half and less of the price. Thus I'd guess it's mainly a combination of little supply (because for a long time it was only grown on one farm) and telling a nice story about it, that made roasters want it. The taste certainly helps, but can in my opinion not totally explain the price differences.

I'd say this holds true in general. Supply and Demand plus marketing your product as something special determines the price. It's a form of market power to differentiate your product from similar products (substitutes), to make it stand out. Just look at Kopi Luwak espresso. It is arguably the most expensive espresso just because it has passed through civets digestive tracts and is then handpicked out of the fecal matter. The production process is quite demanding, which limits production quantity and gives it a good 'origin story'. Never mind that it tastes like what it actually is.

Sources:

Highest Rated Coffee (Coffee Review)

Geisha ( Hacienda La Esmeralda)

  • I have removed the vulgarities from your answer; despite the facts of the subject, please keep it clean! If I did not retain the spirit, please edit appropriately. – hoc_age Feb 24 '18 at 16:57

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