Exclusive Look: Sampling the Finest Panama Coffee of the Season!

In this article, Willem Boot gives us an update on the new harvest from the farms in Panama, specifically Finca La Cabra and Finca La Mula. The farms are almost done with the harvest, but still have microlots resting on the drying beds or in the dark room. It’s crucial that we take our time and slowly dry the beans with care for over 20 days.

Sampling and Evaluating Panama’s Freshest Coffee Harvest

Recently, I received a big shipment of samples from the farms. I’m super anxious to discover how these new crop coffees turned out. When I inspect the samples, I look for all the particular signs that tell me if they’re top-notch. I measure their moisture levels, check the water activity, examine the color of the green beans, take in the fragrance of the coffee, and even notice the subtle differences in density.

Roasting and Tasting Panama’s New Crop Coffee Gems

Now comes the fun part: roasting the samples. Let me tell you, it can be a bit tricky because different processing protocols can affect the beans in various ways; the density can vary from lot to lot and the drying protocol can evolve differently, which can result also in different levels of moisture or water activity. Fortunately, I have my trusted Giesen WPG1A sample roasting machine to help me out. I tried to carefully design a suitable roasting protocol for these samples. I start off with a low setting for the Pa, which controls the pressure and airflow during the roasting process. Once the temperature hits around 250°F, the Maillard reactions start, and at about six minutes and 300°F, I crank up the Pa setting to give the beans an extra burst of airflow. Most of the samples I’m roasting are Geisha coffees, and they benefit from increased airflow in the second half of the roast.

The Art and Science of Roasting Panama’s 2024 Coffee Harvest

Here’s my little secret: I can’t resist eating the coffee beans right after they’re roasted. It’s the best way to get an initial taste of the flavors of the new harvest! Of course, I wait at least 12 hours before I start the cupping. Fresh crop coffees generally benefit from more resting time after roasting, and sometimes I wait for up to 72 hours until I start cupping such coffees.

From Farm to Roaster – Panama’s Coffee Journey Unveiled

When it’s time for cupping, I make sure to do it blind. As a coffee producer, it is too easy to fall in love with your own coffees, and for that reason, blind tasting is essential. Often, I also include samples from other producers during the same cupping, in order to compare our samples with those of others. Regardless of whether you’re using a Giesen sample roaster or a machine from another brand, following consistent protocols is crucial. By the way, if you haven’t tried a Giesen sample roasting machine yet, I highly recommend it! In my opinion, the WPG1A (gas heated) and the WPG1E (electrical) are the crème de la crème of sample roasters in the coffee industry. One huge advantage of the drum-style roasting machine like the Giesen sample roaster is the fact that you can actually see and smell the beans during the roasting process. Obviously, this is impossible with any of the fully automatic air roasters, which have been flooding the market during the last 5 years.

This is such an exciting time of the year because fresh crop samples are becoming available from coffee-producing countries all over the world. I wish you the best of luck, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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