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Panama coffee tours. The best coffee in Panama can be found in the Chiriqui highlands. Among other varieties, Boquete, Cerro Punta and Volcan produce the highly sought-after Geisha bean, which is smooth, aromatic and flavorsome. Many growers offer tours around their plantations, where you can see all the process from picking the berries, roasting and grinding, to the best part – tasting the final product.
Janson Coffee Farm located in Volcan, offers one hour, 90 minute and two hour tours. The guides show the processing and roasting facilities and the nursery and then visitors ride through the coffee fields. The two hour coffee tour shows what it takes to produce excellent coffee: volcanic soil, high altitude and a distinct micro-climate combine together to give this estate coffee a refined flavor. For more information visit www.jansoncoffeefarm.com
Kotowa Coffee Farm in the mountainous town of Boquete demonstrates of how coffee used to be ground with an old mill. There is a visit to the environmentally clean processing plant and the oldest still-standing coffee mill in Panama (completely restored). This old mill is almost a 100 years old and was built by the founder of Kotowa coffee, Alexander Duncan Macintyre, in the 1900s. They also explain about caffeine, espresso, organic coffee, fair trade coffee and share their secrets of how to make a good cup of coffee. The tour ends in the romantic tasting room in the old mill. An hour is spent tasting and cupping. To find about times and tour prices visit kotowa.com.
Finca Lerida, also in Boquete, offers a great coffee tour. It begins in the fields of Boquete where you learn about the history, origin, qualities and secrets of coffee handling. In the second phase of the tour, the visitor learns about coffee production all the way from the ripe coffee cherry to the roasted bean. What makes this tour unique is its history which is tied to Toleff Boche Monniche, a Norwegian engineer and graduate from the Royal College of Dresden, Germany, who worked on the design and construction of the Panama Canal’s emergency gates.
He was looking for a place with clean, fresh air to rest and recover from his fourth attack of malaria contracted in the hot and humid lands of the Panama Canal. After sailing seven days in a little steam boat along the Pacific shore and riding a horse uphill for many hours, he arrived in a unique spot: Finca Lerida, nestled on the skirts of Volcan Baru and the high ridges of the Central Range and that is how the plantation started. Here he built his house – completely by hand – in a Norwegian countryside style. It is still standing today.
The tour ends at the Tasting Table where the long, intense and complex coffee process ends. This is also the place where they find out whether or not a whole year’s work has produced a high quality coffee. Those that participate in the tour taste different varieties of coffee and learn how to distinguish between different taste tones. Instruction is given on how to prepare a good cup of coffee by learning about water temperature, time, toasting and grinding, and different brewing methods like Coffee Maker, French Press, Drip brew and boiling. This tour illustrates the coffee culture in a fun way, helping the participant to better enjoy this legendary aromatic drink. For more information visit fincalerida.com
These are just some of the Panama coffee tours you can find in the highlands of Chiriqui. Depending on the area you are visiting it is possible to find coffee plantations in Cerro Punta, Volcan and Boquete. It is an experience worth having, so that next time you grab a cuppa you will know how it was processed.