What Makes Geisha Coffee So Expensive?

Some coffees are affordable for many people, while others are very exclusive. This is the case of Geisha coffee from Panama, the most expensive coffee in the world.

What is Geisha Coffee? 

Geisha coffee, also known as Gesha, is a type of coffee that has become very popular in recent years. This variety belongs to the genus of Arabica coffees. 

The reason for its popularity is the fact that in 2004 La Hacienda Esmeralda participated in the Best Of Panama competition with several Geisha coffees, which surprised the juries and won first place. 

In this competition, the best coffees are auctioned at very high prices. Thus, this coffee gained recognition and exclusivity when a pound of green coffee sold for more than 20 US dollars in 2004. Nowadays, Geisha coffee is one of the most commonly used coffees in barista competitions due to its high quality and taste. 

In the past, no one relied on Geisha coffee because, although the plant was hardy and resistant to various pests, it was not very productive. In addition, its branches grew vertically and not horizontally. However, after several trials and under certain growing conditions, it was found that this tree produced a particularly high-quality coffee.   

The Geisha tree can be recognized because it grows very tall and its leaves are very elongated, green or bronze in color. The coffee has better taste and body characteristics when the tree is grown in mountainous regions with higher altitudes, i.e. above 1,600 meters above sea level. 

The best climate for growing Geisha coffee is a steady rain. This allows Geisha coffee to mature more slowly and develop its best flavor and sweetness characteristics.


Geisha coffee has different prices on the market. However, one pound of Geisha coffee has fetched more than $1,000. This does not mean that all brands have this price, but it is considered the most expensive coffee in the world. At a 2019 auction, Elida Estate sold 454 grams of Geisha coffee to a Japanese house for $1,029. 

A cup of geisha coffee can cost up to $125 in Dubai and $75 in the United States. However, if you have the opportunity to try it in Panama, you can get a cup for $9 to $12. One of the main reasons why this coffee is so expensive is because it is grown so carefully and its taste is naturally unique. 

With each sip, you can enjoy many flavors depending on the type of cultivation, altitude, humidity, and oxygen levels in the atmosphere. To better understand these variables and their influence on the quality of coffee, you can check out our article on coffee cultivation in Colombia

Where does Geisha coffee come from? 

Although many people associate the origin of this coffee with Panama, its origin actually lies in the 1930s in Gesha, a village in southeastern Ethiopia. British explorers found this coffee at that time. Years later, in 1953, a Geisha variety was sent to the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza CATIE in Central America and later propagated throughout Panama. 

Geisha coffee is grown throughout Central America, but none comes close to the quality and taste of the coffee grown in Panama. For this reason, its production in other countries is not as outstanding. Although Panama is not one of the largest coffee producers in the world, its Geisha coffee has gained strong traction in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States, according to a study

It is widely grown in the province of Chiriqui, which borders Costa Rica. This province is home to the Baru Volcano, the highest volcano in all of Central America, a mountainous area with an altitude of 3,475 meters (11,400 feet) above sea level. The best place for geisha coffee. 

Top 5 best Geisha Coffees 

It is not so easy to get Geisha coffee in supermarkets, because it is so exclusive. Moreover, there are many brands that sell specialty coffee under the name of Geisha, but they are not actually the original. Therefore, here we present to you some of the best Geisha coffees in different price ranges so that you have the opportunity to try them. 

1. Elida Estate Geisha coffee 

This is the leading brand that continues the tradition of Geisha coffee. The most expensive pound of coffee in the world is from this brand. In 2019, it won the Best of Panama competition in the category of Natural Geisha Coffee and Washed Geisha Coffee. It was awarded 98.00 points out of 100. Elida Estate has won this competition two years in a row with first place. 

Its taste is hard to put into words, the best tasters have described it as exotic, deep, and dynamic. We couldn’t describe all the flavors contained in a cup of Elida Estate Geisha coffee, but surely there’s a reason it was awarded Best. 253 grams of Elida Estate Geisha coffee costs $175. 

This coffee is not only good for its taste but interesting for its history. The Lamastus family, founders of Elida Estate, has been growing Geisha coffee for more than four generations on a farm in Boquete, Panama. 

2. Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha coffee

This coffee is one of the best of this variety. This hacienda has received several awards for its specialty coffees. It won first place in the 2017 Best of Panama competition in the category of Natural Geisha Coffee. They also ranked fifth in the washed geisha coffee category. Coffee cultivation has a long tradition there, dating back to 1890. 

The brand offers three Geisha coffees: Special, Private Collection, and Geisha 1,500. 

  • Geisha Special is a coffee that has been rated over 90.00 by the best tasters. It is the most special and high-quality coffee that the company sells. All of its floral and citrus scents stand out. 
  • The Geisha Private Collection is a blend of small batches from several Geisha coffee farms. 
  • Geisha 1,500 is the result of blending 1,500 coffees from the Geisha collection to provide a washed coffee of excellent taste and quality. 

With all three varieties, you can choose the degree of roasting or, if you prefer, roast the green coffee yourself and enjoy one of the best Geisha coffees on the market. 

3. Finca Hartmann Geisha coffee 

 Another flagship coffee, awarded for its quality and taste in several competitions in Panama. Rated 92.00 points by the best tasters. The Hartmann family is a pioneer in specialty coffees and their history begins in 1940, with more than 100 hectares (247 acres) of cultivation with several smaller plots at 1,300 and up to 2,000 meters (4265 – 6561 feet) above sea level. 

250 grams of this coffee can cost around $85. It has notes of jasmine, bergamot, honey, orange, vanilla, and pineapple. All of the trees at the Hartmann estate are shade-grown in different mountainous regions to offer different flavor profiles in each cup. 

The processing of this coffee is very special. The coffee is dried using the Honey Process method, which leaves some of the mucilage behind. This name is usually associated with a sweet process, but it actually means that the mucilage is not removed. 

This is the best process to obtain a good body and a particular taste. During it, the coffee gets sweet and fruity notes with mild acidity and a good body. 

4. Hayman’s Geisha Coffee – Finest World Coffee

This brand sells coffee beans that have a floral and jasmine scent. It has flavor notes of mango and tangerine. In the end, you can taste the bergamot characteristic of Geisha coffee. 

200 grams of this coffee costs about $80. The coffee is roasted when you order it, so you get a freshly roasted coffee that has the best aroma and taste. 

You have the option to order green coffee, freshly roasted coffee beans, ground coffee or Nespresso Geisha coffee capsules. A wide choice depending on your taste and needs. 

This coffee is available on Amazon and is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars by customers. 

5. Mudhouse Geisha coffee

A brand that attracts many customers in the specialty coffee sector. In 2017, they were awarded in Roast Magazine in the category of Micro Roaster of the Year. This year, this brand also won the Good Food Award 2020. 

This is a coffee with notes of papaya, tea rose, caramel, jasmine, cocoa, and black tea. Many flavors in one sip. The coffee is sold as a whole bean and roasted at the customer’s request for guaranteed freshness and quality. 225 grams of Geisha Mudhouse coffee costs about $75. 

This company is a roaster and buys coffee from different farms in Ethiopia, Panama, and Indonesia. They select the best coffee farms to roast the best quality beans that bring out all the flavor profiles. 

When you have the opportunity to try a cup of the best Geisha coffees, you will be amazed to discover flavors you never knew existed in coffee. It is a coffee that always offers new flavors to discover. So it will be a new experience for your palate.