Equator Travel Blog

Geisha, Ethiopia and Mushrooms

Posted on May 23, 2009 Bookmark and Share

by David Pohl
Esmeralda cupping group shot. Courtesy of the LA Times.

Exciting times here at Equator Estate Coffees and Teas.  We just participated in a record-breaking Panama Esmeralda Geisha auction this week, where prices overall were higher than ever, though the top lot went for a mere $117.50 compared to the $130 it grabbed a few years ago.  We secured a 300 pound lot with a group of top roasters from the Bay Area for $27, the lot we all felt was the best on the table when we cupped all seven lots last week.  The LA Times even wrote a little piece about this cupping click here.

Whatever your opinion about the real value of the Geisha (plenty of folks really don't think it is worth $100+ as in this from the Guardian) we can attest to the fact that it is one of the most interesting, vibrant and nuanced coffees we have seen.  This isn't to down-play the quality of many other wonderful coffees from Africa, Asia and the Americas, as our Ethiopia Idido Misty Valley proves.  It is just that Panama Esmeralda Geisha has it all: a wonderful coffee, a beautiful name, an interesting history, and it is from an unlikely origin.  Here is a link to the farm. If you want a very unique coffee the Geisha is not to be missed in our opinion!


We finally have some hopeful news from Ethiopia.  As you may know the export situation has been tricky, if not downright chaotic, due to dramatic changes in the way coffee is traded in Ethiopia.  Most of the specialty coffee industry has come out against this new system, which makes it much more difficult to trace a particular coffee back to the farm it came from.  In essence we will not be able to get the Idido Misty Valley this year - the exporter simply has lost control of his coffee to the government.  But we have found an outstanding alternative that is on its way here now.  It is called Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Koke and in its natural version cupped as well or maybe better than the IMV, and as a washed coffee was wonderfully floral and citric.  The proof will be in the landed coffee, as a lot can happen between Ethiopia and the US to diminish quality.  Still, we are hopeful that we will be able to offer the best Ethiopias available despite a very tough situation there.


And if you have seen our home page recently you have seen "Chido's Blend".  This coffee embodies our recent involvement in "pulp to protein" projects in coffee producing countries - an innovative idea we would like to see take root around the world.  In short, coffee waste, especially the pulp that surrounds the bean, is an ideal medium for growing mushrooms.  This process can provide a critical source of protein for coffee families, reduce methane emissions from pulp (a big problem in many coffee countries) and can also be used as a cash crop once food security has been achieved.  Click here for a short video on growing mushrooms from coffee waste.

In addition to this limited time offering which directly helps Chido build networks of mushroom growers in Zimbabwe, we are launching a second project with Sustainable Harvest, a progressive, relationship focused coffee importer, in Kigoma, Tanzania.  This project will initially see 100 young women and girls trained to grow nutritious mushrooms in their communities.  These trainees will then become the trainers for other communities around Kigoma.

We will continue to give updates on the work of Chido and Sustainble Harvest as the work unfolds - in the meantime you can directly support these projects through Chidos Blend.

Thanks as always for your continued support!

Comments: 0