The $130 Experience

by: Trish Skeie, Zoka's Director of Coffee

I've always said that it's much better to spend money on an experience rather than a thing. And I guess yesterday, Zoka did both. In the most hotly contested online coffee auction so far this year, Zoka banded together with a handful of other roasters to buy The Geisha (Gesha) variety coffee from Hacienda la Esmeralda- Best of Panama #1.

And here is the kicker...the big story...we paid $130 per pound.

Now consider for a moment the fact that this is not only the record price any coffee has ever fetched at auction, but it is also 160% more than last year's record price- also the Best of Panama #1, Hacienda la Esmeralda, Geisha, which went for $50 a pound, and $21 the year before. It also won the Best Coffee honors at The Specialty Coffee Association's Cupping Pavilion this year...and last, and...every year since 2005. The Cupping Pavilion celebrates coffees from every corner of the earth. And while it can never be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, many professional coffee cuppers honestly believe this Geisha is currently the best coffee in the world.

Your first question is going to be, "is it really worth it?" That's where the experience part comes together with the thing. The flavor experience is unparalleled in its amazing floral character. The fruit is explosive, and the balance - clean and sublime. Its aroma practically sings to you from between endless rows of other exemplary coffees...like a siren...beckoning you to ruin yourself at the auction. But of course, we are not ruined at all. We were incredibly lucky to win it!

The unique qualities of Hacienda la Esmeralda are mostly attributed to the Geisha coffee varietal. It's an extremely low-yielding plant and difficult to cultivate. Some believe it only produces the best possible fruit at a very specific altitude. The truth is that there is still much to learn about this variety, even though it has apparently been around since the start. Researchers have narrowed its origin down to somewhere in remote Ethiopia. That's right- the birthplace of coffee.

Stay tuned as we bring you news about Esmeralda's arrival, roasting, and offering. We have just 50 green pounds coming to us. Is an invitation only cupping, a hand-crafted Clover cup experience, or possibly a lottery win in your future? I'm just hoping I get more than a swallow myself!

Drink it up!

-trish