Deep Dive: Gesha Village
Spanning 471 hectares, Gesha Village is the largest privately owned farm in Ethiopia and rests on the land that was the birthplace of the celebrated Gesha varietal.
“The Gesha varietal has really been popularized in Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia, but the original birthplace of the indigenous plant is Ethiopia,” Conor Conway, Head of Alchemy at Epoch Chemistry, shared.
Gesha Village’s producers, Adam Overton and Rachel Samuel, first got introduced to Ethiopian coffee in 2007 when the pair travelled to the country to make a documentary about coffee in Ethiopia.
The experience sparked a passion for coffee in them, and they eventually crossed paths with Willem Boot, a coffee educator focusing on the Gesha varietal. Boot taught the pair how to grow and cultivate coffee, and they quickly returned to Ethiopia to pursue cultivating coffee.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF GESHA VILLAGE
After returning to Ethiopia, the team was in search of a location to begin producing coffee. Specific conditions are required to successfully cultivate the plant, such as high elevation, ample rainfall and temperate climate.
They found this all in West Omo. The land was in close proximity to the Gori Gesha Forest, the birthplace of the Gesha varietal and where it was discovered in 1931.
The team collected seeds from the Gori Gesha Forest and slowly cultivated their land to produce the coffee. The varietal, along with natural heirlooms, are grown in Gesha Village, right next to where the varietal originated.
PRIDE OF GESHA AUCTIONS
In 2016, Overton and Samuel developed the Pride of Gesha auctions, where roasters from around the globe bid on coffees from the farm. All coffees in the auction have an 88 score or above and typically have sweet, floral and/or boozy cup profiles.
VARIETALS GROWN AT GESHA VILLAGE
The Gesha Village farm is divided into eight blocks where different varietals are grown.
THE ILLUBABOR FOREST HEIRLOOM VARIETAL
Cultivated in two different sections of the farm, the Illubabor Forest is the natural heirloom of the region and is only grown in Gesha Village. It is known for creating bright coffees with high acidity. The varietal is high-yielding and resistant to disease and pests. It is shade grown and beloved for its high cup quality.
The British Ambassador to Ethiopia first discovered this varietal in 1931. The seeds were exported to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Panama, where they gained the most attention. It is grown from a tall, slim plant and is praised for its high cup yield and unique flavour profile.
Originating from the Gori Gesha forest, this varietal grows from tall, thin trees that produce small round beans. The beans are noticeably lighter in colour and beloved for their complex flavour profile, often providing intense floral notes. The varietal and rare and highly sought after in the specialty coffee world.