Panama City — The unmistakable aroma and flavor of Panamanian specialty coffee continues to invade the palate of demanding consumers of the grain in South Korea, Japan and China, who adore the Geisha variety, and for a pound of which they offer more than $2,500.
When this price is broken down, a small cup of the Panamanian coffee could cost between $70 and $125 in a coffee shop in these Far Eastern nations, according to data from the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP).
The microclimate, temperature, rainfall, soil and special conditions of the Panamanian highlands, located in the province of Chiriqui, in the western part of the country, combine with the dedication of Panamanian coffee growers to make this specialty coffee one of the most delicious and expensive in the world.
Besides the cultural practices of the local producers, the secret is the geographical location of the country, because Panama is not oriented from north to south, like Central America, but from east to west, commented Hunter Tedman, SCAP’s president.
The high-altitude coffee growing areas of the country are located mainly in the zones of Renacimiento, Boquete, Volcán and Cerro Punta, with altitudes ranging from around 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level, up to 2,500 meters.
Of 1,752 traditional coffee producers in the province of Chiriqui, an area that concentrates 65% of the production of the bean in the country, with a production of 145,000 quintals, according to data of the harvest of the agricultural year 2020-2021 of the Ministry of Agricultural Development, 5% is specialty coffee, according to data from the guild.
It is a very small percentage of very high-quality coffee, but it is according to SCAP, which has 93 members growing the variety.
The recent XXVII International “Best of Panama” coffee expo and tasting event took place, the most important event of the Panamanian coffee industry, where 112 lots of Geisha coffee (64 lots of natural Geisha and 48 lots of washed Geisha) and 74 lots of Varietals were entered into competition, and where a group of 20 national judges selected 24 lots for each category that entered a semifinal where 18 international judges from Australia, China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Bulgaria and the United States selected the winners.
As the main judge of the entire competition, Will Young, from Campos Coffee of Australia, said that he was very satisfied with the Panamanian coffee and that he had tasted the best coffees of his life, since there were judges who scored up to 100 points for some lots that they considered to be extraordinary.