Off the beaten path in Panama

Friday, January 22nd, 2010No Comments

panama

‘DEUCE’ MIXES A LITTLE BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE

Cherry Hill’s co-owner Jeff ‘Deuce’ Biglow took some time out of his holiday in Panama to meet with coffee producers and visit some farms in Boquete in the western part of the country. It was a perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience with coffee processing before it reaches Cherry Hill Coffee for roasting. It was also a chance to have frank and honest discussions with growers about Fair Trade and Organic practices and coffee prices paid to the farmers.

“It was an eye opening experience to see cherries de-pulped and the entire fermentation and drying process up close,” Jeff explained. “There’s a lot of work involved before we get the beans.”

The highlight of his visit to Boquete though was cupping some of Panama’s famous Geisha varietal at Cafe Ruiz while he talked off the ears of the owner (surprise, surprise).

“I must have chatted with Maria (at Cafe Ruiz) for three hours – she has a wealth of knowledge and a passion for coffee.”

Cafe Ruiz was the largest farm Jeff visited with an annual production of over 6,000,000 lbs. Finca La Milagrosa on the other hand produced only 20,000 lbs a year. The differences were apparent with owner Tito Vargas’ homemade equipment attracting a lot of attention from Jeff.

“Tito had built his own sample roaster, hand-made all his processing equipment and even had a car transmission running his jerry-rigged coffee grinder, unbelievable!”

In the end though the hospitality of his host was what really stood out. “At one point during the tour at Finca La Milagrosa, Tito let me take over – because of his poor English or my constant interruptions, I don’t know – but he was super-friendly and gracious. We had a blast there.”

And then it was time to pack up and hit the beach town of Santa Catalina for some surfing, some people have the life! Can’t wait to hear about your next trip Jeff!


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