The Montecristo Estate is a Rainforest Alliance certified farm. It has schools, housing and many other facilities for its many permanent workers as well as for any workers that come just for the harvest. The schools are also available for the surrounding community that does not work for the farm.
Montecristo has been part of the community for over 40 years, and the farm manager, Don Gustavo, has been a vital part of it for over 30 years!
For those of you who don’t know, a Geisha is a unique varietal not only in taste but also in the way it grows. If treated like a typical coffee varietal/tree a Geisha will grow very slowly and take up to 7 years before it produces any fruit, compared to the 3 to 4 years of most other varietals.
What Johann (the owner of the Montecristo Estate) has found is that with proper grafting of a stronger and more productive root system onto his Geisha plants, along with four times the amount of fertilization, he has been able to have Geisha’s start producing after three years, which is absolutely unheard of. Other differences of the Geisha include a lower crop yield, typically 25% of what other varietals will yield.
The Montecristo Estate fully washes all their coffee with the Geisha being no exception. It is soaked for 36 hours in their fermentation tank then rewashed and soaked again for another two days, giving it the clean crisp notes in the cup. After the two soakings it is sun dried over multiple days and then run through a density shaker to separate the lower density beans away from the lot and then sent through a color sorter where it picks out any discolored beans, after this it is then hand sorted for any defects or broken beans that may have gotten through. After all this it is bagged and put into the bodega to ensure the moisture levels are stable.
Even the bodega at the Montecristo Estate is a very unique as it is lined with Conacaste wood which helps keep the moisture level down in the building, which leads to a more stable coffee, increasing its shelf life and trapping all the characteristics inside the bean.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of the Guatemala Montecristo Geisha, from Fratello Coffee Roasters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: San Marcos, Guatemala
farm: Montecristo Estate
producer: Don Gustavo
elevation: 1380 meters above sea level
process: doubled washed, patio dried
certifications: Rainforest Alliance
The aroma of the Guatemala Montecristo Geisha seems to be a little less intense than I remember Geishas being. It’s been a while since I had a Geisha, but I remember them being wild and bright and fruity. This one, eh—not so much that, but still, nonetheless, very pleasantly perfumy. This coffee has a nice, bright, fresh aroma that reminds me of a meadow, with scents of wildflowers, berries, and nuts.
Up front, this coffee has me feelin’ like a child in a candy shop. Or maybe a yuppie at a smoothie bar, I don’t know which.
This is an intensely sweet cup of coffee with a lot of complex, dynamic flavors bouncing off of each other—most of them tropical fruits. The longer I sit with this coffee, the more I’m realizing that the profile doesn’t shift at all; it starts off bright, it stays bright, and it finishes bright. No flavors appear, no flavors drop off; if anything, they intensify over the life of the cup.
This coffee has absolutely unreal flavors of maraschino cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, papaya, mango, candied lemon drops, white sugar, zesty orange peel, clementine, kiwi, starfruit, lychee, honey, with pralines and wildflower aromatics that flutter in the finish.
Medium body; complex mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
You may not know this about me, but I don’t know everything about coffee. For example, as it pertains to this review, I didn’t know that there were farms in Guatemala that had a Geisha program. I’ve had Geishas from Costa Rica, Colombia, and, obviously, Panama, but not Guatemala. After doing some research I discovered that the Geisha cultivar was actually discovered in the early 1900’s in Ethiopia, re-emerged from obscurity in the early 2000’s, and now producers all over South and Central America are experimenting with it.
Don Gustavo, in San Marcos, Guatemala, is one of those producers, and his Montecristo Geisha, provided by Fratello Coffee Roasters, is an extraordinary example of how, well, extraordinary this cultivar is.
This is a bright and lively coffee that simply shines on the palate. I wouldn’t say that it’s sparkling or effervescent, as tropical fruit profiles usually are, but there are a lot of characteristics about it that excite and tantalize the taste buds—its candied sweetness, its fruity liveliness, its clarity and cleanliness, and, moreover, the experience it provides the person holding the mug.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.