Panama, the natural land bridge between Central and South America, has many excellent coffee growing regions. Out Of The Grey Coffee sources coffee from the Boquete region.
Panama is on the rise. It boasts a rapidly growing economy and its capital, Panama City, has both a cityscape of modern skyscrapers and an old quarter of colonial buildings. Tourism has grown very rapidly, and it is always an exciting country to visit.
Panama is a relatively new player in the specialty coffee market. The best Panama coffee is grown in the Boquete region, just south of the border with Costa Rica. The forested mountains of Boquete provide one of the most beautiful growing conditions in the world. As you approach the finca or estate you ride on a single lane road down in the valley with vertical cliffs covered with flowers and trees. The finca itself is misted in clouds, with guava and tropical fruit trees intermingled among the wild coffee trees. In the middle of the finca is a five-hundred-year-old tree that was just a sapling when Christopher Columbus was just landing on the shores of the Americas. As you walk under a twenty-foot coffee tree, you look up and see sleeping fruit bats among the bright red coffee cherries.
The coffee farm is close to 100 hectares with 5 hectares of new Geisha plants. There are 250 hectares of highland cloud forest that limit with “Parque La Amistad” a bio-diversity protected national park.
Although processing methods are technically advanced, growing practices tend to be traditional, and the majority of Boquete coffees come from trees of the traditional typica variety grown in shade. Perhaps owing to the predominance of traditional shade-grown varieties, Panama coffees generally tend to display more complexity and distinctive character than coffees from neighboring Costa Rica.
Several very well-run estates (Lerida, Berlina, and La Torcaza, among others) produce meticulously prepared coffees that range from lively but gently acidy and round to others that are rich, complexly nuanced, and boldly acidy. In short, Panama Boquete is a superior Central America wet-processed coffee with all the range and potential virtues of those coffees.