ICO MEMBER: code n°29 – “other milds” group
BOTANICAL SPECIES: Arabica
BAGS: 69 kg bags
FLOWERING: from April to June
HARVEST: frm August to February
HARVESTING METHOD: picking
SHIPMENT: from November to August
SHIPMENT PORT: Cristobal, Balboa
PRODUCTION: 95.000 bags
Production in Panama began circa 1800 on the mountain ranges of the district of Chiriquì, near the town of Boquete and Volcan. This region is also known as the “Valley of flowers and eternal spring” due to the year-long mild climate, geographic position and very fertile volcanic soil. Plantations are almost always located near fresh springs providing crystal clear water, which is also useful for the cleaning and washing coffee processes. This is one of the reasons behind Panama´s unique and characteristic coffee.
The product is also unique to this country due to the meticulous monitoring of each processing phase. From August onwards, during the picking phase, thousands of indigenous Ngobe Buglè people handpick ripe berries. The cherries are then transported to the processing plant, where they are weighed and inspected. From this point onwards the berries undergo different processes:
- SORTING is the first phase and takes place in huge tanks of water. The waste or immature product floats whilst the good product will settle at the bottom.
- PULP REMOVAL used to mechanically separate the pulp from the bean and must be carried out within few hours of the receipt of the goods
- SORTING BY DENSITY through channels of running water. The heavier product forms the “Primera de Pergamino” destined for the European Preparation, whilst the lighter one is denominated “Segunda de Pergamino” and is reserved for the American Preparation. The blend of the two and the third one is known as “Cabeza de Cano”.
- DRYING humidity is reduced to 10% drying the product in the sunlight or with a guardiola (mechanical coffee dryer). Once the process is finalized, the product is ready for export and covered in parchment – a thin membrane which covers the bean.
Panama seems to be naturally blessed with the conditions to produce special coffee. This encouraged some producers in 1996, to make the most of this and – in light of the period of price instability – create the Speciality Coffee Association of Panama. Quality standards were also applied in connection to local workers, who boast some of the best salaries and greater safeguarding in respect to other labourers in Central America.
In the context of special coffees, mention must be made of this particular cultivar – the best ever produced. Originally called Abyssinia in light of its Ethiopian origins, it is now commonly denominated Geisha or Gesha owing to the seeds, which seem to originate from the Gesha forest in Ethiopia. In 1963, this variety was brought to Panama from Costa Rica by a member of the Pachi family. It was long neglected due to fact that its yield per hectare is very low. In 1998, torrential rains caused by La Nina in Panama, were responsible for a fungal disease in the plants in the region near Boquete. Daniel Paterson, owner of the Hacienda La Esmeralda, recalls how half of his property was ravaged that year. Only three varieties of plants survived and Paterson decided to replant the entire plantation with this varieties, one of which was Geisha. The result exceeded optimistic expectations: being awarded as the best coffee in the world for three years consecutively. Their plantations alongside the Don Pachi Estate are the only ones which produce Geisha.
This cup of coffee is a unique experience. Its extraordinary character, light body, Jasmine floral aroma, elegant acidity, and citrus honey tones render it a unique product. A real thrill.