Having spent the last six years visiting with farmers in Latin America I have consistently been offered to buy bulk green conventional and organic coffee. Most of the time I simply respond that coffee is its own beast, and I stick to the fruits. But, given the coffee culture in Boquete, Panama I decided to take a deeper look.
One of my favorite agriculture tourism experiences in Panama was a visit to the world class coffee region of Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama.
While I appreciate quality coffee, my experience in coffee tends to be one of necessity. In the past I drank coffee because it was early in the morning and I needed help to wake up and start working, or I had a coffee meeting and I was drinking socially.
I could definitely taste and appreciate the difference between coffee brewed at Blue Bottle compared to Dunkin Donuts (sorry Dunkin Donuts). However, I never ventured into the world of pristine coffee experience. Having spent time in some of the nicest coffee shops in San Francisco, California I have seen the $10 coffees on the menu and often wondered who pays that much for coffee, and why! After visiting with Garrido Coffee in Boquete, Panama, I now understand the reason.
David Garrido, the owner and operator of Garrido Coffee was kind enough to give my dad and I a tour of his coffee farm and do a tasting of his coffee varieties.
The Geisha coffee has gained a reputation of being a smooth, yet deep flavored coffee with flower and fruit aromas and a range of taste nodes. The rumor in Panama is the most expensive bulk wholesale coffee ever purchased was Geisha from Panama at the coffee auction. Legend has it a buyer from Asia paid over $300 for just one pound of green coffee.
On my visit I first got a tour of the Geisha coffee farm located at exactly 1500 meters above sea level. The Geisha coffee is planted alongside the more common Caturra variety. The rich volcanic soil is filled with worms and other beneficial insects. The leaves and branches from the coffee plants quickly decompose and is converted into a naturally rich fertilizer. David explains that to get the perfect flavor he uses a bit of artificial fertilizer in order to provide the exact perfect deployment of nutrients. The plants are grown in partial shade, and surrounded by biological corridor of native forest and streams.
When it is harvest time the pickers know to only harvest the Geisha plants first in order to get a 100% pure Geisha harvest. However on the second and third harvests the Geisha plants are harvested with the Caturra beans and Geisha blends are created.