Panama is a relatively low volume producer of coffee, with its total annual production being just 100,000 bags of coffee per year. There are some farms in Brazil that produce that much coffee by themselves! However, this is one case where the quality vs quantity adage most definitely applies. While Panama does not produce a lot of coffee, it has all but opted out of the commodity industry, and it is a massive force in the world of specialty coffee.
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Coffees from Panama
Panama is home to the Geisha varietal, one of the most in-demand specialty coffees in the world. The country’s volcanic soil, high altitude and warm climate mean that it is ideally suited to growing coffee. Panama’s farmers can be confident that whether they grow Geisha, or another popular varietal such as Typica, Caturra, Catuai, Bouron or San Ramon, they will get great yields and a distinctive, flavourful and robust coffee.
A Look At Panama’s Coffee Industry
Most of Panama’s coffee is grown in Chiriqui, which is located in the west of the country. The name Chiriqui is taken from the language of the Native-American tribe that once lived in the region, and translates to “valley of the Moon”. Many of the people who work in the coffee growing industry in Panama are from the two indigenous tribes that live in the area – the Bugle and the Ngobe.
The Chiriqui region itself is divided int tow distinct regions, the Volcan and the Boquete. These regions have numerous small and medium sized plantations on them, which grow specialty coffee. Harvests take place between December and March, and the beans are then fully washed and laid out to dry on a patio. They are shipped immediately after processing, for maximum freshness.
Panama has a strong reputation in the specialty coffee industry, and as a country it takes coffee culture seriously. The Specialty Coffee Association of Panama is a not-for-profit association that was formed to help promote the coffee industry, and to help educate coffee farmers on sustainable ways to improve their harvests while also protecting the forests and the water sources around them.
The SCAP provides growers with information about cultivation and processing methods, and also works with other associations to run international competitions and to connect growers with buyers. The organisation was founded in 1996, when there was an international coffee crisis, and prices for commodity coffee had plummeted. Seven of the biggest coffee producers from Boquete and Volcan teamed up to improve their coffee and to promote it to the world.
Today, SCAP has 30 members, and they export special coffees to buyers around the world. The coffees produced by SCAP members have won numerous prizes, and are recognised internationally for their great taste. The organisation is always looking for ways to make the perfect cup, and to take advantage of the diversity of the microclimates that the country enjoys, while still respecting and nurturing mother nature at every stage of the growing process.
If You Like Coffee From Panama, Give These A Try…
If you’ve enjoyed a good cup of Panama coffee and you’d like to explore coffees from other similar growing regions, try the following: