On the Shelf: Mr Black x Campos Panama Geisha Coffee Liqueur

Now that they’re very well established and have a high repute behind them, awarded Australian coffee liqueur Mr Black have once again teaming up with the legendary Campos Speciality Roasters for a special collaboration brew, their second in less than a year. In December of last year we took a look at the first collaboration between the two brands – which is still very much in high demand, or so I’m told; now they have gone and taken this whole thing to the next level, sourcing what is currently the most highly sought after coffee bean in the world – Panama Geisha – to create a premium edition Mr Black that will be very limited in availability. We got to try some at a recent event held at Neil Perry’s famous Rockpool Est. 1989 – one of the last brunches ever for the iconic restaurant, before they close and re-open as Eleven Bridge.

Right now, the Geisha from Panama is the world’s most expensive coffee, having recently been awarded First Prize at this year’s “Best of Panama” competition (the Olympics of the coffee world). Compos have managed to bring 100kgs of the bean into Australia, exclusively, allocating half to Mr Black in order to make this rare and limited edition release.

The result is something the team at Mr Black – particularly creators Tom Baker and Philip Moore – seem to be tremendously proud of, excitedly pouring us samples in Rockpool’s private dining area, which were paired up with a bespoke menu created by the kitchen to pair with coffee (think Burrawong Chicken roasted with scallop, topped with bacon, and swimming in Mr Black dashi or Apricot Fondant with almond sorbet). To give us a better idea of the differences between the original Mr Black and this limited edition, we tried both side by side, and the differences are extraordinary.

The gorgeous dessert created by Rockpool’s kitchen team to pair with Mr Black Panama Geisha

The Geisha beans are grown on a farm which is owned by 5th generation coffee farmer Roberto Brenes, who named his lot after his granddaughter, Camilina. The farm first became famous in the coffee world for winning the Best of Panama in 2012 for what was called the “Ironman Blend”; this is their second win, boosted by the Camilina blend of the Geisha beans which are used in this current Mr Black.

I’m not quite sure how they are treating the beans on that farm, but whatever they are doing, Mr Black and Campos have captured that spirit right, presenting with a singular coffee infused into their liqueur, giving it a very distinctive taste – one which had many of the bartenders at the Rockpool brunch quite excited.

mr black blends
Spoiled for choice: Mr Black Panama Geisha || Mr Black || Panama Geisha Coffee

The reason for the aforementioned dessert from Rockpool is that one of the most noticeable notes in this coffee liqueur is apricot, second only to the strong hit of honeycomb that you get throughout the palate. Compared to the original, the Panama Geisha has a soft texture with a vibrant body of fruits all the way through. It’s sweet – of course – but not overly sweet. Where the original is thicker and full of beautiful malty caramel and molasses notes, the Geisha brings in more rich dark chocolate and toffee with its fruit, staying consistent with the rich (and very addictive) nose. You’ll get a long, lingering acidity on the finish that sits there lightly on the back of the tongue, meaning that you can probably stomach a cocktail using this much faster than you would a regular, say, an espresso martini, seeing as the Panama Geisha is nowhere near as thick and rich as the original.

Getting your hands on a bottle of this isn’t quite as easy as recent releases of Mr Black. Seeing as they’ve made a very limited amount, the Panama Geisha will be available only to the public only via ballot (which you can register for HERE). Successful applicants will be notified by August 12th.

However, if it’s just a taste you want. You can head into any Rockpool venue nationally, where this will be available exclusively to taste from now until the stocks are sold out.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.