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Drink This Now: Panama Geisha from Davis Street Espresso

It’s not common, this cup of coffee.
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Our February “Rise and Dine” issue will tell you where to eat. Stay tuned on SideDish for a series of morning elixirs whose common denominator is caffeine.

It’s not common, this cup of Panamanian Geisha coffee.

The first indication is its place on the special clipboard of Davis Street Espresso’s coffee menu, reserved for the day’s varietals. The second indication is the price: $7 a cup. Finicky, thriving only in very particular, high-altitude micro-climates, Geisha is a prized varietal whose main place of production is Panama, though it came to Latin America from Ethiopia, where the village of Gesha gave it its name. A complex profile with incredibly bright, citrusy, floral notes sets it apart from many Latin American varietals (the clipboard card will tell you to watch for notes of papaya, mango, mint, and honey). It can be a divider: most of the coffee drinkers at my table swore by it; there were those for whom it was too bright.

Davis Street sources its Geisha directly from Finca Carmen Estates in Panama, and owner Shannon Neffendorf has walked the land that’s planted with the trees. That sourcing—and the cup’s quality—contributed to Davis Street’s winning a 2016 Good Food Award with the Geisha earlier this month. (The awards are given in various categories on the basis of quality and responsible sourcing.)

You may not approach your coffee like fine wine, keep a journal of tasting notes. Still, it’s neat, it’s special to try something that pushes the boundaries of your coffee world a little bit.

When this season’s crop of Geisha runs out, Davis Street won’t feature it again until July or August, when the new crop comes in. (Yes, seasonality in coffee!) That, too, is part of the pleasure—knowing it’s a fleeting creature to seek out.

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