Best Panama Coffees in 2022
Panamanian coffee is known for its extra-ordinary coffee flavors which are as a result of specialty production in the nation. It is characterized with sweet flavor with citrus and/or lemon hints and a smooth soft finish.
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Coffee in Panama
Panama is known worldwide for producing Arabica geisha beans that are most expensive and high quality coffee bean all over the world. The commodity actually goes for about 700 US dollars per kilogram which a spectacular high price in deed. Though the geisha variety was initially grown in Ethiopia, Panama is the country with most success in producing the specialty beans. Panama is not much famous for growing coffee like other countries though it is something else when it comes to producing high end coffee.
Coffee growing regions
Panama basically has 3 major coffee growing regions with elevations varying from about 1000- 1600 meters above sea level. Boquete is the most known and oldest coffee growing region in panama. Volcan is another area characterized by steep terrain situated in the Volcan Baru slopes to the south west. Finally, renacimiento is found in a remote location in panama is not famous.
Good coffee bean processing infrastructure coupled with good transport such as dry mills and great wet processor stations make the areas more suitable for coffee production. Panamanian coffee in well revered for small lots production contribute by the small farms producers and the high end cost received by the farmers for their coffees.
Conditions for growth for the panama coffee
High altitudes ranging from 1000- 1600 meters above the mean sea level is one of the major factors that favor coffee production. The mountain winds blowing from the north side creates a very fine mist known as bajareque which conditions the air while delaying the coffee fruits ripening. This is responsible for the very sweet and composite coffee cups produced by panama beans.
This is an Arabica variety with high end quality coffee. The coffee have it heritage in Ethiopia. Panama has been known for producing the high quality Gesha /geisha which have gathered high prices in the worlds market. It was rediscovered by multiple failed attempts before by others by Finca Esmeralda who planted the crop isolated from other coffees and went to panama coffee taste competition where it won tremendously. It has an outstanding flavor profile than any other.
Panamas’ largest specialty coffee beans producer is the Cafe Ruiz. One of their coffee plantations is located in the western part of panama with approximately 1200 coffee growers. The farms are forest like and lie on a mountainous region which is just ideal for coffee growing.
Cafe Ruiz grows only the coffee Arabica bean with geisha variety accounting for ten percent of the total crops. Opposite to the Robusta variety where the crop yields without much input, coffee Arabica demands much attention and work. The crop not only needs shade but more water to make it stay alive and fruitful. This area is characterized with rainfall which is present for nine months a year and fruit plants grown all over the plantations provide shading. One of the very recognized producers of coffee is Hacienda la Esmeralda who has received numerous recognition awards for producing exceptional geisha coffee from America roasters association guide.
Harvesting of specialty panama coffee
Harvesting of coffee is a hard labor owing to the harsh terrain in which the coffee plants are found. The terrain is not only hilly and slippery but also characterized by fire ants and snakes. Harvesting is usually done manually using hand, one berry at a time.
Only the ripe and defect free coffee beans are picked which is responsible for the high end quality coffee that comes from panama. The harvesters toil from around seven in the morning to five in the afternoon and gets averagely 1.40 US dollars per hour. The harvesting period normally runs from October towards March.
Sorting out sinkers and floaters
In a production capacity, the ripe cherry undergoes processes of being passed through a machine to separate good fruit, sinkers, from bad fruit, floaters which may be rotten, insect or other defect. Note that floaters are not usually thrown away but sold away to the producers who ground them to produce instant coffee.
After the sinkers are extracted processing the beans to make them roast-able is a long process. Here, the fruit is de-pulped to separate the bean and the cherry pulp and then fermented to remove the mucilage surrounding the beans as an outer skin. The beans are then washed and dried, kept for some time before they are the sorted out using hands according to the density, color, size and shape of the bean. Majority of the panama beans are sold as green beans to allow the buyer the opportunity of deciding the roasting method.
Roasting the panama coffee beans
A controversial fact about the panama beans is that a light roast will produce more caffeinated coffee as opposed to dark roasting. The Italian marketers have done the bean the needed justice as they have influenced most consumers to seek Italian roast or the dark roast coffees.
Light roasted panama coffee tastes almost like tea and is characterized by a delicate smooth finish with lemon and citrus notes and a sweet flavor. A medium roast has more caffeine and the bitter coffee taste. The dark roast is characterized by aftertaste of smoky char bucks. Asians like light roast while the Europeans prefer it dark.
Interesting things to know about Panamanian Coffees
Though panama produces one of the best coffees in the world and bring high returns to farmers, they only rank as number 32 among the worlds coffee exporters. The figure for the sacks annually exported is about 120 000 (60 kg sacks). The country only controls less than one percent of the worlds coffees.
The varieties of coffee crops grown in panama are specialty coffees mostly Arabica geisha. Other varieties are bourbon, pache, Mondo novo, san Ramon, Caturra, typica and Catuai. The crops are usually harvested in the period of December to march and are typically available in April.
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