April 24, 2012


Panama.  The Panama Canal.  That Van Halen song that worms into your ear.  Panama City, which turns out is a huge, metropolis next to the ocean with skyscrapers and huge video screens advertising Panasonic and the accompanying walls scrawled with graffiti and street art.  And it's one of the cheapest cities in the world to live in.  Weird. 

But Panama mostly brings to my mind:  Hartmann.  Hartmann Honey micro-lot #7, to be exact.  That was a great coffee.  One that was brought to us from the Hartmann farm through Ninety Plus.  Ninety Plus - you know them.  They sourced some of the great Ethiopians in our delicious coffee history.  Currently, Tchembe.

Ninety Plus invited me down to see their new farm in Panama, called Ninety Plus Gesha Estates.  It was my first trip to Panama and to a farm covered entirely by Gesha trees, though to my novice eye they didn't look that different from their cousins.  But they are different.  They ripen later in the season and their ripe cherries are harder to pluck from the branch and the flavor of their roasted seeds is outstanding.  

I walked around with my nose and ears perked up, taking in the amazing rainforest scents of exotic and mysterious flowers and trees and grasses, and the sounds of bugs and frogs and birds and the wind playing a song in the Gesha leaves.  And the indigenous coffee pickers, though unseen, working and chatting and calling out to one another.  I tasted the fruit.  And it was good.

We don't have any coffee from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates yet, but I hope we get some this year.  Until then, we have a bit of coffee from their neighbors, the Hartmann family, who were kind enough to take me into their farmhouse and drive me around to see the most beautiful and well-kept coffee trees I've ever seen.  Truly situated in an old-growth forest with towering trees all around.  Try our Panama Ojo de Agua and discover a melange of cinnamon, caramelized pear, and brown sugar.

Hear more about my trip to Panama on the next episode of the AA Cafe podcast (#80).