4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The $11 cup of coffee

Bird Rock gets Geisha

Bird Rock Little Italy
Bird Rock Little Italy
Place

Bird Rock Little Italy

2295 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego

I’ve had good reason to visit Little Italy lately, with Beer Week events at Bottlecraft and the opening of Juniper and Ivy’s casual spinoff The Crack Shack. But most surprising turned out to be a visit to Bird Rock coffee.

That’s because the roaster’s shop was offering La Esmeralda Bosque Geisha coffee on pour over. For 11 dollars a cup.

Most casual coffee drinkers have already dismissed this as lunacy and moved on. Even some enthusiasts may shake their head. A coffee-loving friend recently chided me for dropping seven bucks on a single-origin Kenyan pour over — and that was in midtown Manhattan, where everything goes at a higher cost.

Admittedly, that cup wasn’t worth it. So why would I be willing to spend eleven in San Diego? In a word, geisha. Also known as gesha, a variety of coffee bean that, like most, originated in Ethiopia. But this temperamental bean grows successfully only at higher elevations and in particular climates. As it turns out, the highlands of western Panama are ideal, particularly those of Hacienda la Esmeralda.

For the past decade or so, their Geisha coffee has been prized for its floral and fruity complexity. But its rarity is why Bird Rock calls it one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Demand is high, and its limited supply is sold at auction. This is Esmeralda’s Lot #1, meaning the farm deemed this batch to be its highest in quality. Eight ounces of beans sell at Bird Rock’s cafés for $51 — just over 100 dollars per pound.

Made by the cup. They even got his name right.

So investing eleven to try it seems reasonable enough. Bird Rock offers a couple of options for pour over, using different precise drip-cone methods to make coffee by the cup, as close to perfect as possible.

The barista recommended a Hario V60 drip for La Esmeralda. The Japanese company’s ceramic cone uses spiraling ridges water distributes evenly throughout the coffee grounds. It’s typically a top choice for African coffees, as it allows for the cleanest expression of their fruitier flavors.

Central American coffees don’t typically impart that sort of bright fruitiness, but the Geisha does, which is part of its allure. My first sip proved tart as my palate tried to make sense of the many flavors. Bird Rock’s tasting notes describe them as “sweet stone fruit aromatics, jasmine, honeysuckle, and toffee.”

I encounter tasting notes like this all the time. But with subsequent sips, the florals washed over my palate, sweet and fruity, inviting further sips and rumination. What stood out is how delicate it was. Not weak — there was plenty of flavor in every mouthful. It was refined instead of bold, as you might hope for at such a premium.

I’ve had comparable quality at less than half the price, but this easily rates among the best coffee I’ve tasted and worth a special-occasion sip. This batch was gone quickly, but Bird Rock expects to feature it in greater quantity on or after Thanksgiving weekend.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Grant's Market becomes Grant's Coffee Room

South Park neighborhood mainstay shifts focus from market to all day hangout
Next Article

State density rules squeezing Del Mar into a corner

Watermark units on Jimmy Durante Rd. will include 10 'low affordable' ones
Bird Rock Little Italy
Bird Rock Little Italy
Place

Bird Rock Little Italy

2295 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego

I’ve had good reason to visit Little Italy lately, with Beer Week events at Bottlecraft and the opening of Juniper and Ivy’s casual spinoff The Crack Shack. But most surprising turned out to be a visit to Bird Rock coffee.

That’s because the roaster’s shop was offering La Esmeralda Bosque Geisha coffee on pour over. For 11 dollars a cup.

Most casual coffee drinkers have already dismissed this as lunacy and moved on. Even some enthusiasts may shake their head. A coffee-loving friend recently chided me for dropping seven bucks on a single-origin Kenyan pour over — and that was in midtown Manhattan, where everything goes at a higher cost.

Admittedly, that cup wasn’t worth it. So why would I be willing to spend eleven in San Diego? In a word, geisha. Also known as gesha, a variety of coffee bean that, like most, originated in Ethiopia. But this temperamental bean grows successfully only at higher elevations and in particular climates. As it turns out, the highlands of western Panama are ideal, particularly those of Hacienda la Esmeralda.

For the past decade or so, their Geisha coffee has been prized for its floral and fruity complexity. But its rarity is why Bird Rock calls it one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Demand is high, and its limited supply is sold at auction. This is Esmeralda’s Lot #1, meaning the farm deemed this batch to be its highest in quality. Eight ounces of beans sell at Bird Rock’s cafés for $51 — just over 100 dollars per pound.

Made by the cup. They even got his name right.

So investing eleven to try it seems reasonable enough. Bird Rock offers a couple of options for pour over, using different precise drip-cone methods to make coffee by the cup, as close to perfect as possible.

The barista recommended a Hario V60 drip for La Esmeralda. The Japanese company’s ceramic cone uses spiraling ridges water distributes evenly throughout the coffee grounds. It’s typically a top choice for African coffees, as it allows for the cleanest expression of their fruitier flavors.

Central American coffees don’t typically impart that sort of bright fruitiness, but the Geisha does, which is part of its allure. My first sip proved tart as my palate tried to make sense of the many flavors. Bird Rock’s tasting notes describe them as “sweet stone fruit aromatics, jasmine, honeysuckle, and toffee.”

I encounter tasting notes like this all the time. But with subsequent sips, the florals washed over my palate, sweet and fruity, inviting further sips and rumination. What stood out is how delicate it was. Not weak — there was plenty of flavor in every mouthful. It was refined instead of bold, as you might hope for at such a premium.

I’ve had comparable quality at less than half the price, but this easily rates among the best coffee I’ve tasted and worth a special-occasion sip. This batch was gone quickly, but Bird Rock expects to feature it in greater quantity on or after Thanksgiving weekend.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Cavalier Mobile Home owners vs. the rest of the neighborhood

Barbara Villasenor convinced to re-erect fire lane gate
Next Article

Strings dominate at Oct. 20 Mainly Mozart

Prokofiev, Mozart, Beethoven at Del Mar Fairgrounds
Comments
1

World is full of fools.

Nov. 17, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close