gesha warm
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Gesha Santa Margarita 180g

Acatenango, Guatemala

This is what happens when a smooth and steady coffee gives itself a technicolor, Wonkaesque makeover.

People

Santa Margarita is majority-owned and operated by women, investing in womens' education and family services on and off the farm. Their sweet and versatile flagship coffee is on our menu throughout the year, but they also produce a small amount of the quasi-mythical Gesha variety, loaded with tropical fruits, candied florals, and an airy, delicate texture. In the cup, we taste mango and honeysuckle soft serve twist.

Supported Causes
Production detail
RegionAcatenango
ProcessWashed
Farm systemLarge farm
Varietal(s)Gesha
Reminds us ofMango and honeysuckle soft serve twist
KG's purchased138kg

Story

Longtime followers of our menu will certainly recognize the bulk of this offering’s title — Santa Margarita. Over the years, we have purchased a significant amount of coffee here, which is a relatively large farm compared to many of our producing partners. What we value about Santa Margarita is how its leadership seeks to make the most of its potential, the values they imbue into the work that they do, and their unwavering focus on the future — despite already being a fourth-generation family farm. Their present leaders are mostly women, a majority also reflected in the entirety of their workforce, and as affirmed in our most recent conversation with part-owner Camila, they continue to have crisp goals to improve their operations far into the future.

This particular selection shows a very different side of Santa Margarita than our perennial menu staple. “Gesha” is a particular coffee variety with roots in southwestern Ethiopia, though it more famously gained its current reputation early this century, in Panama. Among discerning coffee drinkers, the Gesha variety is quasi-mythical, with a wildly distinct flavor profile characterized by tremendous florals, tropical fruits, a delicate body, and cotton-candy sweetness that sticks to the palate long after every sip. Since winning the Panama Cup of Excellence and fetching an (at-the-time) exceedingly high price point in 2004, producers throughout Latin America have clamored to produce their own renditions. 

And while the prospect of an absurdly delicious, exceptionally lucrative coffee sounds plenty enticing to everyone, producing Gesha is far from easy. The seeds are expensive, and true Panama heirloom cultivars are very difficult to find, so most non-Panamanian “Gesha” coffees are actually a hybrid, producing coffees that are certainly still delicious but not necessarily as provocative as the stuff that originally captivated drinkers around the world. Beyond the barrier to entry, Gesha trees are delicate plants, requiring significantly more attention and energy than others to nurture to the point of harvest readiness. Years ago, when our Green Buyer first saw Gesha trees in real life, he was struck by how feeble and out-of-place they looked compared to the other trees on a healthy farm in northern Guatemala. There’s a strange, whimsical charm to them, but even at a glance, it’s easy to imagine the headaches they often cause in the field.

Nonetheless, the team at Santa Margarita was eager to give a small parcel of Gesha trees a try. Their farm, despite producing quality coffee for several generations, is working hard to emerge more recognizably into the specialty market. Without a certain amount of name recognition, the power dynamic between producers and buyers remains woefully lopsided, and so the presence of micro-lot caliber options alongside their incredibly solid bulk lot is a firm step in the direction they’re aspiring toward. And so they planted their first trees in 2016, hustling and paying top-dollar to acquire 100% Panamanian Gesha seed stock. In 2019, they were able to export five bags of fully washed Gesha — they had produced slightly more, but experimentally gave some of them a “honey” process, which they quickly determined was not the best means of expressing their desired flavor profile. In 2020, they were able to export eight bags, and in 2021, twelve. Today, their Chief Farm Administrator calls the Gesha trees “his baby” — year after year, they continue to improve in the cup, and the team is getting more deeply attuned to their eccentricities throughout its farming and processing. 

By 2023, the team at Santa Margarita hopes to have successfully transitioned at least one container (~275 bags) of their standard production to a fixed-price arrangement, moving away from the vulnerability-ridden commodities market that their sales have been attached to through the present. At Dispatch, we virtually never purchase coffees that are priced off of a “differential” against the “C” market, because this is not the most equitable way of working with farming partners. It is an unstable, highly-vulnerable, woefully antiquated economic model that often forces farmers to sell their yields at a loss, and we are among the majority of specialty-minded roasters who opt for a more equitable compensation framework whenever possible. However, categorical aversions to certain processes inevitably alienates certain producers, and with Santa Margarita, we know that their scale and level of maturity has allowed them to take incredible care of their employees and their community, and we have been thrilled to help them steadily advance toward goals that can only come to fruition through meaningful, sustained, direct relationships with roasters like us.

This Gesha is a rare offering for us — it’s a flashy coffee, one that can’t be produced at considerable scale, the sort of plant that can easily distract both farmers and consumers from the more meaningful work being done in the grand scheme of specialty coffee. But in this case, building upon what is already a strong relationship, we are truly thrilled to carry it. The range of flavors that this farm can yield is staggering. For those who are familiar with our standard Santa Margarita, this offering will be an eye-opening treat. The cup is loaded with tropical fruits, candied florals, and an airy, delicate texture, like a mango and honeysuckle soft serve twist. This coffee is truly special, and we are proud to share it.

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Production

Varietal(s)Gesha
KG's Purchased138kg
Processing MethodWashed
Arrived at DispatchAugust 2021

Who it's From

ExporterDelgado y Compania
ImporterInteramerican
ProcessedOn-site
Farm SystemSingle farm
Relationship DurationThird season
Number of Contributors110

Where it's From

RegionAcatenango
CountryGuatemala
Elevation1,700+m
Sub-regionChimaltenango