Thumbnail Filmstrip of Panama Volcan Valley Geisha - Experimental Lot 23176 Images
About Panama Volcan Valley Geisha - Experimental Lot 23176
This is most exciting and expensive coffee that we purchased this year. It arrived in vacuum sealed packaging in the late summer and is now being opened for the first time. There is an extremely small quantity available.
We visited Joseph Brodsky at his Ninety Plus Gesha Estates farm and processing center in May of this year and were presented with multiple tables of coffee to cup. During each round, two coffees were put side by side - one from their new venture, Volcan Valley Coffees (see below) and next to it - one from the Ninety Plus brand. There were two each of a washed, honey, natural, "experimental" and "intense" in each round and, in addition to evaluating the coffees for purchase, it was also a way to compare and contrast the two different brands. In some cases we favored one brand over another, but when we got to the experimental group we were just blown away by the oddly delicious flavors and juicy, albeit 'boozy' nature of the coffee from Volcan Valley. We found out soon afterward that this was a recreation of a coffee of theirs that had just won a major international competition and had sold for $2,000 per kilogram to the presenting barista. The coffee was strikingly delicious.
Joseph Brodsky on his Gesha Estates farm in Panama, May 2023
Joseph Brodsky has been an innovative source for years in the world of high end coffee, first in Ethiopia and than more permanently in Panama, where he now lives. Joseph founded Ninety Plus Gesha Estates in Panama in 2009 after having begun his work with coffee in Ethiopia, under the Ninety Plus brand years before. Joseph is what you might call a coffee flavor designer. He grows beautiful Geisha coffees on his lovely and lush property, near Volcan and just off the road that connects Boquete to Volcan. Then he takes that ripe coffee fruit and processes it in a variety of custom methods to extract and transform the flavors. Some of the processing is done in secret so as to protect the proprietary methodology. The result is coffee that has won countless awards when used by baristas in worldwide competitions including the World Barista Championship and Brewer's Cup events. His coffees are at the top of the list when competitors are looking to wow judges.
Ninety Plus Gesha Estates is an ecologically integrated collection of distinct micro farms committed to the understanding and sustainable cultivation of the heirloom Ethiopia Gesha coffee variety in Panama. While their Gesha work in Panama is relatively new, the group has been working for years in Ethiopia working with heirloom varietals and with a particular emphasis on the refinement of processing technique to produce outstanding flavors through the use of their methods. Some years ago they acquired a 134 hectare property in Silla Del Pando, about 15 minutes outside Volcan, Panama to grow and develop the Gesha varietal and combine it with cultivation and processing experience they had perfected in Ethiopia. 35 hectares have been protected as indigenous rainforest. The property teems with native plants and animals, a kilometer of wild river frontage, and an extensive program to replant indigenous shade trees throughout the property. The company works to be a globally leading model of boutique coffee production and biodiversity.
Joseph has also just begun work on a new farm and joint venture called Baru Estates, an 1800 meter, 70 hectare plan located at the base of the Baru Volcano crater, with the crater rim running to 2300 meters. The soil no doubt is volcanic and rich. It is connected directly to the 15,000 hectare Volcan Baru National Park. This new farm will significantly increase Geisha coffee production but coffee from here will not be available for several years.
Experimental Lot Details:
- Name: Experimental Batch #23176
- Processing: Criolic Folio™
- Variety: Gesha, aka Geisha
- Farm: Gesha Estates
- Tasting Notes (theirs): Red Apple, Honey, Dulce de Leche
Drawing upon years of crafting award-winning coffees at Ninety Plus, Volcan Valley works with gesha, caturra, catuai, SL28, pacamara, and other varieties (some from The Baru Project but primarily from neighboring coffee producers in the region) to add value to coffee cherries through its cutting-edge and often unique processing methodologies, much like a great winemaker creates wine from grapes sourced from others that benefit from good farming practices in attractive terroirs. In making competition-level coffee more accessible, Volcan Valley is developing a coffee processing center to showcase its work while offering co-processing services to neighboring coffee producers who don't own facilities or the necessary equipment to support Volcan Valley's methods.
PROCESSING STYLE: Criolic™
Criolic™ processing is a method of coffee processing that utilizes low temperatures to decelerate the decomposition of sugars and other complex proteins in the coffee mucilage. This process starts with freshly picked coffee cherries, stored at low temperatures using water or other means.
During the Criolic™ process, the coffee cherries are exposed to cold temperatures in an oxygen-controlled environment, usually around 4 to 10 degrees Celsius. The oxygen-controlled environment can significantly impact the flavor profile of the resulting coffee.
The oxygen levels during the processing stage can also significantly impact the flavor profile of the resulting coffee. By controlling the oxygen available during fermentation, the bacteria present in the coffee cherries can produce unique flavors and aromas not found in coffee processed using traditional methods.
Once the processing stage is complete, seeds are placed to dry into a single-layer formation not exceeding 2cm in thickness in raised African beds in the Red Room. Afterward, seeds are placed on the top level until they reach 18% humidity and then gradually moved to the lower levels to extend drying time. They are agitated every 2 hours during the daytime to ensure homogeneous drying and avoid hot spots during the drying period. Typically, drying takes 20-25 days until coffee in parchment reaches 11.5% humidity.
The resulting coffee beans are known for their unique and complex flavor profile, often with notes of berries, yellow tropical fruits, and even floral characteristics. Criolic™ processing can produce a coffee that specialty coffee enthusiasts covet, as it offers a unique and distinctive flavor profile not found in coffee processed using traditional methods.
The first ever coffee produced using this method is the legendary Batch #227 from the 2017 Harvest from Gesha Estates in Panama, which won the 2017 World Brewers Cup in Budapest. Two years later, a twist of this process, using Saccharomyces Cerevisiae yeast, was used to conquer the 2019 World Brewers Cup in Seattle.
PROCESSING STYLE: Folio™
Folio™ is not a stand-alone processing method like the ones described above. It's instead an additional layer that can be added into different processing methods (e.g., Washed) to provide more depth and complexity. We use Folio™ to describe the use of one or more parts of the coffee plant (e.g., leaf, cherry, flower, etc.) in the process, and it's an indicator of the level of processing specialization that Ninety Plus has been known for since 2014. The first ever coffee released with this exact layer in its processing was Ninety Plus's well-known Yuzo in 2020. Folio™ versions of our main processes have been used to win numerous national championships over the last three years worldwide.
This lot was harvested on 13-Feb-2023 from our Estate #128, located on the northern side of Gesha Estates at an elevation of 1,480 meters, with a total area of 0.45 ha. Trees on this estate are six years old, considered their mature age for production and flavor. Processing for this coffee is a twist on the Criolic™ process and utilizes both leaves and cherries (Criolic Folio™) in the fermentation of 48 hours. Coffee was dried for 31 days in Red Room, three days as a single layer, then combined to dry at 3 cm depth and hand stirred throughout the day for an additional 28 days.
Cup Characteristics: Incredible flavor profile. Flavors of watermelon juice, sweet citrus, kiwi, oolong tea and sweet peach. Very mouthfilling succulence. Intense flavors but enjoyably so. A tremendous achievement.
Roasting Notes: Roasters vary a lot by make and model so we can only provide some overall guidance. This coffee has intense fruit and can tend toward alcohol tones so the profile should remain light. We would suggest 12% to 14% development time, the amount of time after first crack really gets going. So, if time to the first crack was 8 minutes, then 12% development time would be about 58 seconds before pulling the roast. Ultimately, this will be your decision, but do keep it like to preserve the range of flavor.