Malacara El Salvador Geisha Special Selection
- July 2017
- Written by : Andy Atkinson
Regional Retail Manager of New Markets and East Coast / Green Coffee Buyer
Years ago, in writing about the origins of our Los Inmortales I-mark, my colleague Geoff Watts invoked Mayan legend to describe a hidden home of the gods in the mountains of El Salvador. When I first read it, I thought it was nothing more than a charming bit of storytelling. Now, I am not so sure. Our Malacara Geisha Special Selection makes me wonder if perhaps we have stumbled into a magical lair where the gods have conspired in secret to create something otherworldly.
When we describe the vaunted Geisha variety, our thoughts soar. In the coffee world, the word “Geisha” is associated with the most prestigious awards in the industry, and with the kinds of exotic delicate floral and fruit flavors that make our mouths water. But those lofty associations are grounded on the production end of the coffee chain by concerns about the plant itself.
Spindly, fickle, and relatively small, Geisha hardly looks like a rock star. More importantly, it is a notoriously low-producing variety that is expensive for a coffee farm to grow. These hard realities keep many farmers from planting it even despite its elevated status and high demand on the market end of the chain.
When Guillermo “Epe” Alvarez decided to expand his exploration of varieties on Finca Malacara, choosing to try the Geisha variety was bold move -- bold, but not necessarily surprising. Epe is highly tuned in to the specialty coffee industry, and knew that if he could make the plant work on his farm the the results could be amazing.
He was right.
The first time Epe took me to the young Geisha plants on Malacara, they looked like the small spindly little trees I expected to see. What I did not expect was how they would react to Malacara in the next few years, those spindly little plants exploded into towering lush trees full of cherry. Epe employed a planting technique not common in El Salvador when he added a “probiotic” to the soil before planting the Geisha seedlings in the holes he had dug for them. There was something magical about the combination of the Geisha seed, the Malacara growing environment and Epe’s priobiotic treatment. During his first harvest of the young Geisha plants last year, Epe had counted on only getting enough production for seedbeds to expand his Geisha plot. But those plants produced so much coffee that he was able to fill his seedbed and had enough left over to sell us some for roasting. Needless to say, we were delighted to be able to offer that truly amazing coffee to lucky guests in our coffeebars. One year later we get to finally taste the first full production of these extraordinary trees, and it is even more remarkable than our unexpected surprise from last year.
Our quality control team tastes kiwi, key lime and red grape in this year’s effervescent Malacara El Salvador Geisha Special Selection.