Barista Magazine

APR-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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PA N A M A WE STOOD UNDER THE bamboo trees at 2,000 meters above sea level with the Baru Volcano on one side and on the other, we could see as far as the ocean. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and to make it even better, the Geisha coffee trees were in bloom all around us. We had come to Panama to visit some of the farms that had, year in and year out, produced some of the yummiest coffees we had ever tried. The Caturras and Catuais were awesome, but it was for the Geishas of Panama that we had really come to this region around the volcano. What was going on in Boquete and Volcan that made this coffee taste so damn good? Oskar, the 2013 Swedish Barista Champion, asked Graciano CruzÑwho runs Los Lajones together with his fatherÑwhy he called his coffee Bambu Geisha. ÒThe first time I came up to this plateau, there was wild Geisha growing here,Ó Graciano explained. ÒNow, my Geisha grows here with the bamboo trees for protection against the sun and the wind.Ó I took a ripe Geisha coffee cherry from the tree, bit down, and exclaimed, ÒIt tastes like somebody mixed roses, honey, and cherries!Ó During our time in Panama, we had the chance to visit with Ricardo Koyner of Don Kotowa farms, Graciano Cruz of Los Lajones, Rachel and Daniel Peterson of Finca Hacienda la Esmeralda, and Plinio Ruiz of CafŽ RuizÑand that was just on the Boquete side of the Baru Volcano. Then we drove to the Volcan side to visit JosŽ Raul, the manager at Finca Santa Teresa, which is now owned by TobyÕs Estate, and finally, Joseph Brodsky at Ninety Plus Gesha Estates. Together, Oskar and I had previously visited both great and not- so-great coffee farms in Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Indonesia, but this time, we had chosen to only visit farms that produced cof- fee that was mind-blowing any day of the week. As we were planning this trip to Panama, our semi-joke for the journeyÕs working title was ÒGoing GeishaÓÑbut thatÕs exactly what it turned out to be. As soon as we landed in Panama City, we were full inÑall Geisha, all the time. We headed to what we had been told was the most ambitious coffee bar in town, La Bajareque, which is run by the Lamastus family. As my first-ever competition coffee back in 2010 was a natural processed Caturra from Finca ElidaÑowned and run by Wilford LamastusÑ this was a huge thrill for me. When we found out that the man behind the bar was in fact Wilford himself, I did the ÒIÕm not worthyÓ gesture, but Wilford almost immediately interrupted me to ask an important Opposite page, at top: José Raul, the farm manager at Finca Santa Teresa, shares a cup of coffee with his young son (pictured), aer work. Alexander asked, "He drinks coffee every day?" to which José replied,"Only five cups per day, and never aer 6 p.m., or I never get him to sleep." Below: Joseph Brodsky told Alexander and Oskar how he came to operate a 100+ hectare Geisha-only farm just outside the town of Volcan in the foothills of the Baru Volcano. It all began with a dream of owning a small, 10-hectare farm. This page: A one-year-old Geisha plant stretches above the rolling landscape of eastern Panama at Ninety Plus Gesha Estates. 33 www.baristamagazine.com B o o k 1 - 5 4 . i n d d 3 3 Book 1-54.indd 33 3 / 2 4 / 1 4 7 : 1 1 A M 3/24/14 7:11 AM

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