November 15th, 2007 – by: bfortune
early crop coffee growing on a coffee tree
The Panama Highlands, around the Volcano Beru, are where some of the world's finest specialty coffee is grown. The rich, volcanic soil, the high elevations, and the plentiful rainfall (benefiting from both Atlantic and Pacific moisture) combine to make for ideal growing conditions for specialty coffee. Many of the farmers in this region are 2nd and 3rd generation farmers, carrying on the work of their grandfathers who came to Boquete
in the early 1910's. Some of these farms are producing very high quality coffee that is meticulously grown and processed. Harvesting coffee is a labor intensive process as each ripe cherrie must be picked by hand, and hauled over the rugged terrain in baskets or bags.
coffee cherries ripen on a coffee tree
Fruit is literally falling off the trees in some of the farms, providing the pickers with plenty of food to fuel their picking work. The farmers employ many Panamanian natives to harvest and process the coffee. The care and passion with which they produce this coffee has produced some of the finest in the world, and one of the farms holds the record for the "best coffee in the world" and has earned the highest price ever paid for a green coffee. ($130 a bag) I really enjoyed visiting the coffee plantations and learning from some of the best in the business. These growers are scientists, botanists, as well as great business people, and are doing really beautiful work with a beautiful product. Boquete is one of the most stunning places I have visited and I hope to have the opportunity to return. Hopefully the real estate and development boom that is happening there won't destroy what is beautiful and peaceful about this still very untouched corner of the planet.