The Geisha from Hacienda Esmeralda
Coffee beans are a highly volatile product that taste best when consumed shortly after roasting — all those distinct, complex flavors fade rapidly with age. Some experts say two weeks is the maximum shelf life, some say four, though they all agree that the several-months-old beans you’ll find in supermarkets (and, horrifically, in some specialty stores), is a crime against coffee.
Most serious artisanal roasters operate on a baker’s schedule and fire up their vintage Probats every day. They’re holding up their end of the bargain; now it’s up to you to buy your beans every week.
Which is an increasingly easier task in New York. On any given day, Stumptown Coffee Roasters(20 West 29th Street, no telephone) in the Ace Hotel offers around 20 different freshly roasted coffees. It’s the largest variety in the city and one of the most impressive selections anywhere. Most cost around $12 for 12 ounces.
If you’re feeling indulgent, Stumptown Coffee Roasters also sells one of the cultiest — and costliest — coffees in the world: the fabled Geisha varietal from Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama, which costs $70 for a 12-ounce bag. As if you need further proof of New York’s maturing coffee scene, just wander or bike over to 29th Street and Broadway and grab a bag off the shelf.
The Geisha from Hacienda Esmeralda isn’t a gimmick, the latest Kona or Kopi Luwak. Instead, it’s more like the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti of coffee, a superior product that blows the collective mind of the experts who trek to Panama each year to taste the new harvest.