Panama Coffee Plantations

Panama Coffee Plantations – How we get coffee

In April my husband’s dream of visiting a coffee plantation was fulfilled not once but three times.  We were able to tour in some way- three coffee plantations in Panama.  Have a seat at my table and learn how we get coffee as you tour with me—Panama Coffee Plantations – How we get coffee.

Coffee Plantation Dream

My husband started roasting his coffee at home over 10 years ago as a hobby and learned good roasting techniques and coffee origins.  He said,  “One day I would love to tour a coffee plantation.”  He even had dreams of working at one.   “Let’s go for the tour,” I said.   Since we were going to Panama, we decided to stay longer and head to the coffee mountain area in Boquete.

Panama Coffee Plantations

Mountains of Coffee

Where the weather is cooler, the soil is fertile, and there is plenty of sunshine all year long in the Coffee Mountain area near Boquete, Panama.   This is over 6 hours from Panama City and it was worth its distance to see where coffee comes from. 

After many buses and hours on the road, we ended up in Boquete for a coffee tour.   Remember you can fly to the area within a half hour of Boquete, but my husband wanted to see the country of Panama. The bus trips were a once-in-a-lifetime experience to share another time.

Panama Coffee Plantations

Panama Coffee Plantation Tour

We tried to book a tour at  Finca Lerida, but they were full.  After we got there by taxi they said we could do a self-tour. To my husband’s delight, we hiked around the plantation to see where all the coffee trees grow. 

We decided that this was a lot of work to harvest coffee. The hiking took us up the hills in the mountains with the coffee trees.   You must be in good shape to withstand the hot sun and almost be an acrobat to collect the coffee beans.

We did not see them picking coffee because the harvesting season is from November to March.   Some of the trees still had a few green and red berries left over from pickings.   The property had a waterfall and had a beautiful view. We enjoyed the cooler Mountain temps in the 80s and the breezes with the sun.  

The red coffee beans were drying in the sun on the cement pad and screens.  The process of drying the coffee fruit into coffee beans to sell to roasters takes patience and a labor of love.

Panama Coffee Plantations
Panama Coffee Plantations

Tasting Award-Winning Coffee

My husband wanted to buy some green coffee beans and because this plantation didn’t have any they sent us over to the plantation next door.   Elida Estates Coffee didn’t have tours but a little cafe to purchase coffee made with pour-overs. The coffee and water were weighed to the gram and brewed with timers.  

The Geisha coffee we purchased to taste was Panama’s best award-winning coffee.  It was coffee I had never tasted before.   It had a taste of fermented sweet coffee and wine.   This would cost $120 a pound.   Ok, so Not in our budget.    

Coffee
Coffee Tour

Next Coffee Tour

My husband was a little disappointed he didn’t get an official tour.  The next day we went to church and met David, a Plantation owner.  He had to do a late afternoon coffee tour and asked if we wanted to join.  Of course.   My husband’s dream was coming true. 

This coffee plantation Damarli Estate, is small but since we had a relationship with the owner we learned a ton. This plantation is off the grid with its solar power and water.  We met some of his full-time coffee employees from the Ngabe Indigenous tribe.  The Ngabe people were having church service on his property and loved working for this plantation. They have a great relationship with the owner. 

The coffee in this plantation is mostly grown under a canopy of trees.  This coffee has a different flavor profile.   As we toured, a Banana tree and other fruit trees grew beside the coffee trees.   

Some of his trees were starting to bloom.   With a long branch of buds, David noted it would be a good coffee season this fall.   The rainy season will soon begin.  

Blooms
Coffee Fruit

Coffee Drying Process

Once again we saw the coffee drying on screens in its stages. There are three ways coffee is dried. 

  • One is the natural drying process in the sun where the fruit eventually dries off the coffee.
  • The next is the honey process, where they use water to remove the outer layer of the coffee cherries to dry.  Part of the fruit dries with the bean.
  • The last way is fermentation. They wet the coffee and the fermentation process begins.  

Each processing method contributes to a unique flavor profile.   Coffee varieties like Geisha also contribute to the flavor.  The area it is grown contributes to the flavor. Finally, how long the coffee is roasted.   In America, if the coffee is blended with other coffees, it adds to its flavor profile.  

Cupping

Coffee Cupping

My husband and I did an official coffee cupping as we watched the measured amount of ground beans in a cup.  We had to smell at specific times and slurp at specific times.  It is quite the procedure to sample coffee one tablespoon of flavor at a time. We noted the smells and tasted each of them three times. Coffee flavors change as it cools.   

This plantation was awarded the Best in Panama Award for one of its coffees. We also tasted Cascara tea.  This is when you take the fruit from the coffee cherry and make it into a tea.   This tea is very flavorful and can be made into a cold or hot tea.  

Our Experience at our final plantation was nothing we had planned that day but was a God Kiss for the day.   God knew my husband’s dream and the whole day fell into our laps with experiences we will always remember. We are thankful for the new relationships we made.   

Panama Coffee Plantations

Just Like God

Here is the humor in it all. David, the plantation owner asked my husband where he gets his green coffee beans. My husband told him he buys his beans from Burman coffee traders in Wisconsin.    David laughed and said, “We sell our beans to them to distribute in the US.”  My husband had been buying his coffee beans from Panama and their plantation all along.    No wonder he liked Panama coffee so well. 

Panama coffee has a taste I enjoy since I am not a wild coffee lover.  My husband likes all coffee tastes but I love the Panama coffee because of its perfect tones and no aftertaste.   

Thank you for learning more about how to grow coffee.  This is why coffee is so expensive.   Enjoy the luxury of coffee as you drink it each day.  

If you want more information on how to roast coffee and more, see these blogs. Coffee Around My Table: Part One- Health Benefits, Roasts, and Brews

A great Cup of Coffee, One Cup at a Time- Part 2: Roasting and Methods

Cold Brew Coffee and Tea

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Panama Coffee Plantations

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