Brian Beyke

Compelling & Rich - Santa Teresa Panama Geisha

Brian Beyke


I was intrigued by LA's Compelling & Rich from the first time I heard of them, and continuing into my first time seeing a bag.  There is a certain degree of elegance from the clean and thin typeface of their logo, especially how the gold pops off the black packaging.  Upon opening my box, the top of the bag was taped from the back folded back similar to how you see above, which again, added to its sleek appeal.  No extra bag and zip exposed, just all focus on the label, excellently detailed for all the technical information a coffee seeker would need.  It’s been awhile since I visited Santa Teresa Geisha, and I’m anxious to dive into Compelling & Rich’s offering.  Let us explore.  

Santa Teresa Estate is located in the Candela region in the westernmost side of Panama, very close to the border with Costa Rica. The owner of Santa Teresa Estate is Mr. Juan Pablo Berera, a Swiss immigrant who arrived to Panama 60 years ago. He had been a cattle farmer all his life and finally, in 1,990 decided to plant coffee which proved to be a very good decision because of the outstanding quality coffee he produces.

Panama borders Columbia and Costa Rica. Panama’s coffee producing areas are located in the regions around one of the highest inactive volcanoes of Central America, the Volcan Baru (3,475 m. / 11,400 ft.); Boquete, Volcan, and˜ Renacimiento.

The uniqueness about Panama’s Coffees are the microclimates present, and its surrounding land full of rich nutritional and fertile soils, making these high lands perfect conditions to cultivate and harvest a great variety of special coffees.

The Geisha variety has experienced and explosion of popularity in Central America, despite its low yielding properties and the challenges it presents in cultivation.  Santa Teresa has chosen two farm lots as suitable for growing geisha, and chanced considerable investment in the variety.  Both Batista and La Cabana feature the altitude and conditions to nurture the plant, which has thrived on the farm. It was a bit of a chance committing a fair portion of the Geisha crop to experimental and tricky processes, but the effort paid off.


Roaster: Compelling & RichCoffee

Region: Santa Teresa farm, Santa Clara, Chiriqui Province, Panama

Process: Honey-processed

Varietal: Geisha

Elevation: 1,400 - 1,800m

Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 1:50 total time | 197 degrees | 1.25 TDS | 18.75% Ext.

Bright and fruity intro to the cup, much like a natural processed coffee. Bold (not indicative of body but how it hits the palate) and juicy with a lime juice acidity, lemon zest and blueberry fronted fruit notes, and aerated milk chocolate in the low.  Where this cup differs from those naturals is it’s longer more flowy finish that carries hints of floral notes, but not as developed yet as I hope they get. 
Along the way you find interesting twists and turns as you develop stronger and more clean grape and currant notes along with trails of Teddy Grahams, wine, and even hefeweizen.  There is a sugary coating begging to be found, but those citrus zests do prevent them from fully fleshing out.
Honey starts to slowly seep out of the cup, along with notes of blood orange, meyer lemon marmalade, and chocolate notes that seem a bit more rich like dark chocolate lava cake than the notes previously.  The finish as it leaves the mouth is similar to drinking earl grey tea.  While the cup starts to smooth out as it cools, it still remains pretty intense throughout.  

Brew Method:

Clever w/ Chemex Filter | 32g © to 476g (w) | 3:30 then drop | 198 degrees | 1.38 TDS | 21.71% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Juicy and crisp berries on the front.  A mix of raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, cranberry and strawberry with a sparkling acidity, honey coated body, and silky chocolate finish.  Honeysuckle softly plays in the rear of the mouth of this make, quite pleasing.
As it cools you find a drying mouthfeel, a little curious for a geisha offering.  Lime juice starts to take form in the acidity with wraps of floral notes continuing to grow towards the front of the mouth, still juicy but progressing towards silky and filled with honey sweetness.  Grape, kiwi, and dried dark fruits also seem to make their way into the array of fruits that slightly tame as the cup comes to a close, but even in the coolest moments the fruit is a little too intense to fully find them all, with a lingering aftertaste now of lavender and lemon zest.  

Brew Method:

Chemex | 20g © to 320g (w) | 2:25 total time | 198 degrees | 1.02 TDS | 15.36% Ext.
You know what… this is really quite interesting.  It isn’t intense as the previous makes I’ve noticed, which should be expect with something as low in TDS as this.  However, it also isn’t lacking in flavor. 
The main flavors are honeysuckle and lavender, softly floating around in a lightly crisp lime water, like a La Croix or something.  Strawberry and blueberry notes are more approachable, with grape and melon coming next.  Blackberry is there, but more like a fruit spread than it’s more aggressive or prickly like previous encounters.  It does linger on the sides of your mouth though, it just isn’t as abrasive as before.  Light to medium bodied, still has a bit of density. 
The center of the cup turns more into strawberries and cream candies, and even blueberry bagels.  Just pops of those fruits and lingering sweetness.  It grows silky, juicy, and much more balanced than the previous makes.  Dried fruits, earl grey, kisses of honey and slight hints of wine also appear in the cup. 
The aromas stay lingering too, sparkling floral and tropical fruit notes. 

Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 253g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.25 TDS | 19.70% Ext. (Immersion mode)

A lot less going on, comparatively, to other makes.  The acidity seems a bit more controlled, sweet and lightly sparkling.  The fruit forward play is much more subdued here, allowing for a nice retreat into this round and juicy body. It isn’t showing off those with big juice squeezes off the sides of your mouth, it’s more of a slow squeeze, slowly releasing fruit flavors around the palate. 
Blackberry, apple, grape- a whole lineup of jams ready to be spread, with pineapple, cranberry and raspberry bursts in the background.  Definitely lemon-lime acidity as well, crisp and a bit drying like a hard berry cider or white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.)
Wine-soaked berries, cider. 

Brew Method:

V60 no stir (newer sample) | 14g © to 227g (w) | 1:45 total time | 199 degrees | 1.15 TDS | 17.25% Ext. (preferred method)
While the hottest stages of the cup may seem a bit grassy, it cools into a complex, sweet, and softly dense delicious and lingering cup rather quickly.  Notes of lemongrass, honeysuckle, jasmine seems to flutter all around while you narrow in to rich yet oh, so delicate chocolate mousse, fresh spun cotton candy sweetness, mixed berries and brown sugar. It really is immensely satisfying to sip and sip and sip.  
Notes of strawberry, apricot, blackberry jam, lesser notes of blueberry, black currant among other dried dark fruits swirl in a slightly tart and rich yet softly pungent sweetness.  I know that may sound like an oxymoron but you have to experience it to understand.  Lemon citrus resides in the finish and leaves the mouth feeling refreshed and balanced. 
This has been the most complex make of it yet.  Soft, lingering, satisfying. 

Brew Method:

Woodneck | 29g © to 480g (w) | 3:55 total time | 199 degrees | 1.25 TDS | 19.22% Ext. 
As much as this dances on those more intense fruit notes similar to natural processed Ethiopians, it’s actually pretty tasty.  The fruit notes, while a little forward, are sweet, lingering, and dusted with dark chocolate shavings.  Flutters of floral hints are detected in the highs with crisp and slightly tart lemon-lime, clementine, currant, raspberry, and blackberry notes reside, with other drifts of floral notes swimming around more in the lows where more berry jam is forming.  The cup is round, juicy, and and rich in flavor. 
You can notice orange blossom honey creating some of that density, with lush notes of pear, grape, apple, blueberry, dried strawberry, blackberry but even darker notes than that of anise, dried dark fruits, and hints of dark cocoa. 
Jumping into the second half of the carafe, now cooled to about 100 degrees, is a much different staring point.  The cup is soft and delicate, it’s got floral infused honey lingerings galore, and the fruit notes more reserved.  It is still rich, dense, and just filled with wine soaked fruit notes.  The honey in the end now stands out a bit more with a nougat sweetness too, while the acidity remains a bit brisk.  Blueberry seems to be the primary note, blackberry jam sweetness too stands out in this slick but juicy cup. 
Rich, tart acidity, juicy body… depending on what coffees you regularly drink this one could completely surprise you with how rich yet round and approachable a cup of coffee can be.  This was an unexpected coffee for me, and an unexpected geisha profile, but it holds true to what I noticed in other samples from Compelling and Rich: a striking harmony with a rich and fully flavorful profile.  There are lingering aromatics and a tart acidity that both interest and keep you on your toes to see how the continuing sips will unfold.  I think for me I kept waiting for it to have a little more sugary sweetness to it, be it realistic or not.  
All the time I say honey processed coffees lean more toward one way or the other, and the same can be said with this geisha.  It carries a lot of fruit forward pops like a natural processed offering, yet some complexity and body choices more akin to a washed coffee.  On top of that you have this richness that can just be super sexy at times and others a little distracting from the cup.  All in all, I think this would be a pleaser to many people, especially those who, like this coffee, straddle the line between natural and washed processes.  The kind of person that just wished their grinder setting could have middle notches, and the kind of person who fits between a medium and a large T-shirt.  
From what I could decipher from some wonky TDS and extraction numbers, this one seems to do better if dosed back, a few days of extra rest, or a bit of cooling off before diving in. You may find a little extra balance, complexity and lingering floral notes if you do, but in every make you will find a profile that is rich and compelling.  

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.