What is Geisha coffee?
What is Geisha coffee? Well. It's coffee. Alright, looks like we are done here and nothing else needs to be said ... except that its usually priced around $6-$7 a cup and personally have seen up to $12. Which sounds crazy, and honestly dumb. Why would you pay the price of a cocktail for something you can get for free in the waiting area of your local tire shop? Think of it like why would you get a steak from a steak house when I can go and get that Fully Loaded Steak BOSS Wrap from Taco Bell? That analogy might be a bit of a stretch, but it wouldn't be if that steakhouse had extremely rare, and highly sought after cuts of meat. It's pretty simple: Geisha coffees are very rare, highly sought after and arguably the most expensive varietal of coffee due to their high quality. Now, you might be thinking "Wait. What about that cat poop coffee that's really expensive?" and you're right, but that is really more of a way to process coffee, and even then that might be a whole other blog post.
While that is true, the rarity of the Geisha cultivar deserves a little more explanation. So make sure that you have your science hat on, because we are about to drop some science.
Here goes: Coffee comes from a tree. Those trees bear fruit; a coffee cherry. That fruit has unroasted coffee beans inside. So like any fruit bearing tree it is going to require the right conditions to properly grow. (We should know this, because we were once told that we seemed 'pretty ag')
Now imagine that one of those trees is really picky about its conditions, and requires the right climate temperature, water, elevation etc. Plant it in the right conditions and its spectacular, but maybe in another its just regular coffee. Basically, a picky eating toddler who will only eat dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets as opposed to regular shaped nuggets. Now imagine that this toddler is taller than all the other toddlers, much taller, and has long limbs. Like the toddler in this example, the Geisha coffee tree originally believed to have come from the Gesha district in Ethiopia, and transferred to Central America in the '60s is very tall, and has long elongated leaves. Most importantly, the quality of this coffee is unparalleled. Seriously.
So what does this mean? Coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world, right after crude oil. So there is a lot of it out there. There are tons of coffee varietals, but only some are abundant. Coffee is grown using agricultural practices in mostly developing countries. Coffee farmers support their families, and their nations by farming. So looking at supply and demand, we have developing countries with large populations living agrarian lifestyles harvesting the 2nd most traded commodity in the world. So we have a large supply, and large demand, but diving more into microeconomics we also have a large labor force, meaning our labor cost can be extremely low. Slave labor low.
So what happens when a farmer is able to grow this extremely rare Geisha coffee that requires extreme care, and produces a higher quality coffee? They can charge more for their product and increase their standard of living. But as we know things are only worth what people are willing to pay, which is part of the reason we believe in Farm Direct Trade at Arrow Coffee Co.
It sounds like a marketing buzzword, and while part of that might be true, we think there is a deeper meaning to that. We talk about community, and honestly, I see that word thrown around just as much in the coffee community (hah see what I did there?). And I think we need to define that. Here is what that looks like to us:
Our partners in Messenger Coffee traveled directly to Guatemala to the Finca El Zapote farm which has been run by the same family for generations and is currently under the care of Julio Melendez Perez. At 1700 meters above sea level, the farm is set across a sweeping vista from an active volcano in the Acatenango Region of Guatemela. Julio's farming techniques have a respect for social, environmental, and ecological sustainability: from the shade trees that are planted to maintain the soil's fertility to the on site wet mill where the water used for pulping (processing) is filtered and recycled. Julio's attention to detail is some of the finest in the country.
This relationship means that the money WE spend on coffee funnels DIRECTLY to Julio and his family, not to corporations. This means that we get to have a unique, exceptional coffee experience AND support a hard-working farmer and his family, all for less than the cost of well made cocktail. For many members of our community, the struggling farmer motif hits very close to home. That is just one reason that from our community to Julio's, this particular coffee is more than a commodity. It is a chance for us to take part in a movement.
You see, Farm Direct Trade isn't just a buzzword. It's the embodiment of community. Our partners make sure to pay Julio living wages for the work of his hands, and the hands of his family before him. This is more than your 99 cent gas station cup of coffee. This extremely complex coffee is a story, and its a story of the hard work that went from his ancestors, to the Earth, to the growth, harvesting, processing, storing, sourcing, importing, storing, roasting, brewing, and drinking right here in Manhattan, Kansas.
This is what community means to us at Arrow Coffee Co, and we invite you to share in the fruits of Julio's labor. Pun intended.