Changing Face of Specialty Coffee

/ / Food & Flavor

Gesha (or Geisha) coffee has been the favored variety in coffee competitions for over 15 years. But recently specialty coffee brewers are using a new variety: the species C. eugenioides. An article in Perfect Daily Grind details the shift.

As Gesha became the preferred choice of coffee champions (seven of the World Brewers Cup (WBrC) champions from 2011 to 2019 used Gesha), the price started to rise. Gesha production, common in Panama, began to increase in other countries wanting to farm the popular variety, notably Colombia and Ethiopia. But increased production led to some lower-quality Geshas coming to market. 

In recent years, producers have opted for lesser-known coffees, notably eugenioides, a species of arabica originating in East Africa. Its flavor profile is unique, with notes of tropical fruit, and has lower levels of caffeine. But it can be a risky variety. Eugenioides trees are small and produce small cherries, and they  take years to grow.

A possibly more sustainable option for the industry: innovative processing techniques. The 2015 WBrC winner won using carbonic maceration process, a fermentation technique used in the wine industry.

“Fermentation is an effective way to influence the aroma and taste of coffee. It changes the acidity levels and body of coffee,” explains Chad Wang, founder of VWI by Chad Wang, a specialty coffee judge and the 2017 WBrC winner. “Fermentation can significantly help coffee farms to offer different tastes without having to change too much.”

[To learn more about fermentation in coffee, check out TFA’s webinar with the Specialty Coffee Association “The State of the Art in Coffee Fermentation.” The two organizations will be partnering again for a Spanish language version of the free webinar on March 3.]

Read more (Perfect Daily Grind)