Roasters the world over have registered and received samples for the annual Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Special Auction, happening May 15th. This year, Hacienda Esmeralda experimented with natural processing for some of their geisha coffees, drying cherry the sun and completing the process in mechanical dryers. The auction will include several lots from two natural batches, the Colgá Natural, harvested from January through March and grown in the Cañas Verdes region at 1,400 meters and Mario Natural, harvested in February in the Jaramillo region at 1,500-1,700 meters.
Natural processed coffees are undoubtedly a very big deal, and producers the world over are experimenting with this method to enhance quality in places that you’d ordinarily find washed coffees. These naturals are sometimes outstanding and can sometimes be disasters – riddled with defects due to any number of missteps throughout the process. This could be due to climate but is more likely due to the lack of experience.
One prominent roaster isn’t afraid to mince words on the Esmeralda Natural lots, on Twitter wrote “The natural processed Esmeralda is fucking disgusting. Why would you screw up a beautiful coffee like that by fermenting it in a cherry?” Some agreed, some disagreed, and some defended the Peterson’s decision to try something new.
Only time will tell how much the experimental lots will fetch. When Esmeralda made waves several years ago, the gesha variety exploded in popularity in Latin America. If the natural lots prove to be lucrative, it could very well send a message to producers that naturally processed coffees are worth the risk.
Last year, Hacienda Esmeralda sold eighty lots, with the top lot of Esmeralda fetching $15,450.00 for six bags, at $51.50 a pound to Japan based WATARU group for OGAWA Coffee.
Panama Esmeralda Auction online at StoneWorks on May 15th. Bidding on all lots start at $10.00 per pound.