The Science Behind Coffee Harvesting and Processing

This month, Behind The Roast visits the coffee farms that was established by Willem Boot in the tropical country of Panama. Finca La Mula and Finca La Cabra are tucked away in the rainforest near the pictoresque town of Boquete.

Finca La Cabra; Panama’s Coffee Gem

Welcome to the enchanting world of Finca La Cabra, a coffee farm nestled above the town of Portrerillos Arriba near the Boquete valley in the Chiriqui province of Panama. Surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest and boasting an average elevation of 1500 meters, this pristine land offers a captivating backdrop for growing exceptional coffees. Before acquiring this beautiful property, we explored its grounds with great excitement. Finca La Cabra is a secluded spot, embraced by bodies of water on two sides that create an oasis-like separation from the elements. While most of the farm is adorned with forest, there is a plateau on one side that reveals breathtaking views of the majestic Pacific Ocean.

Managing Excellence

Managing this extraordinary farm is Kelly Hartmann, whose family owns various award-winning farms in Panama and has been instrumental in leading all our coffee-growing projects in the country. Our journey at Finca La Cabra began in 2016 when we started working on its 10-hectare expanse. Close to 20,000 coffee trees were planted with meticulous care. Our focus extends beyond just growing amazing Geisha coffee and two heirloom Ethiopian varieties; sustainability lies at the heart of our mission at Finca La Cabra.

Thriving Coffee Cultivation

One aspect that makes Finca La Cabra particularly exciting for us is its manageable size compared to Willem’s first farm. Descending from the steep slopes of Finca La Mula, we find ourselves on flatter and more accessible terrain—a favorable environment for cultivating coffee. Having learned from our experiences at high-elevation farms like Finca La Mula where cherry development faced challenges due to extreme altitudes, we have found a sweet spot at over 1,500 meters above sea level where exquisite-quality coffee can thrive without compromising production.

A Flavourful Symphony

As with all our other coffee-growing projects worldwide, Geisha coffee takes center stage at Finca La Cabra. Originating from western Ethiopia and captivating our taste buds since 2004, Geisha consistently delivers a sweet and complex cup like no other. While Geisha remains our main variety, we also cultivate two experimental Ethiopian heirloom varieties named Tigi I and Betty II. These lesser-known varieties not only contribute to genetic diversity but also add unique flavors to the farm’s coffee offerings.

Resilience and Sustainability

While Geisha is renowned for its remarkable cups of coffee, it’s worth noting that this variety exhibits resistance to diseases such as coffee leaf rust (la roya). Given the medium-high altitude at Finca La Cabra, where plants can be more susceptible to disease, Geisha’s resilience becomes invaluable. Disease resistance aligns with our commitment to minimizing traditional farm inputs and adopting alternative sustainable farming protocols at Finca La Cabra. Reforestation initiatives featuring indigenous shade trees and the use of mycelium-rich inoculants for biological fertilizers exemplify our sustainability-minded practices.

Innovative Processing

Our processing mill embodies sustainability as well. Specially designed fermentation reactors facilitate both anaerobic and traditional aerobic fermentation methods. Anaerobic fermentation creates an oxygen-free environment where meticulous control over pH levels, temperature, humidity, and other factors enhances quality development—particularly acidity—taking each cup of coffee to new heights. Finca La Cabra stands as a testament to our dedication in pushing boundaries within specialty coffee production. This while prioritizing sustainability every step of the way. This enchanting farm not only cultivates exceptional coffees but also serves as an inspiring model for responsible farming practices that harmonize with nature’s rhythms.

In conclusion

In exploring Finca La Cabra, we’ve uncovered a sustainable haven managed by Kelly Hartmann. From its picturesque setting to meticulous planting and innovative processing, the farm exemplifies excellence. Geisha coffee, flanked by Ethiopian varieties, adds a unique flavor palette. Disease resistance and sustainable practices showcase a commitment to responsible farming. Finca La Cabra stands as a model. Harmonizing with nature’s rhythms and pushing boundaries in specialty coffee production—an enchanting legacy in sustainable cultivation.

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