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Coffee – a classic element in Panama’s agrotourism
Panama’s coffee is renowned around the world. This newly found fame has created a niche in the market for agrotourism. The coffee plantations in the westerly Chiriqui province have been recognized as some of the most visited sites in the Boquete area. The farms locations at 1,600 to 1,700 above sea level are ideal for production of gourmet coffee such as Caturra, Catuai, Pacamara and Geisha.
The majority of the coffee plantations have different tours. Cafe Ruíz for example offers tours like “The Art of Tasting”, which allow sampling the different varieties from top Boquete-grown National and International Award-Winning beans. Others like the Kotowa farm show the visitor in a three hour tour, the complete process from the berries on the tree up to the specialty coffee tasted in the old historic mill.
Finca Lérida is a boutique mountain hotel and a coffee plantation where guests have the opportunity to walk among the coffee bushes to learn up close the process of planting and harvesting.
The biggest purchasers of Panamanian coffee are Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Norway and the United States. The sale price at the auction depends on the variety and the drying process, but a pound of Geisha can be sold for as much as $148.
In 2012 around 20,000 hectares in Panama were dedicated to coffee cultivation and the Chiriqui province is the biggest player with around 1,390 coffee farmers in the region.
Alicia Jimenéz, Chief of the Foreign Trade Service of the Panama’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that the quality, aroma and flavor of the coffee cultivated in the highlands demands very good prices internationally. Furthermore, it has opened new niche market in agrotourism, allowing tourists to learn first-hand the production process.
Bocas del Toro is following Chiriqui’s example with a cacao tour in the Ngobe Buglé territories. Agrotourism could become the next best thing for the tourism industry in Panama.