Boquete, which sits at the bottom of a dormant volcano (volcan Baru) is famous for its coffee. I did a tour with Finca Dos Jefes because it was highly recommended by Casa Pedro. They picked me at at 8:45 and after stopping to pick up a few more people we were headed up volcan Baru, on our way to their finca which produces Cafes de la Luna.
I wasn't sure quite what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the thoroughness of the tour. We started with a presentation on the history of coffee, its movement around the world, the financial dilemmas, and the process of preparing the beans for roasting.
Coffee originated in Ethiopia. It was actually discovered by goats, who's owner saw that his goats were hyped up and happy, following them to the source of their change in behavior (and recent addiction).
We then took a walk through part of their 7 acre farm, and learned that there are many things that can go wrong when cultivating coffee. These rust colored spots on these leaves, caused by an airborne fungus, will eventually cause the leaves to fall off, rendering the coffee less sweet, and not fit for consumption.
There are other issues like plants not getting enough magnesium, and borer beetles which lays its eggs inside the coffee bean. The larvae eats the bean after it emerges and so results in a coffee cherry with no coffee bean inside. Which is one of the reason that coffee beans must not float in water after they are picked.
This is where their coffee is dried during harvest season, which begins around October.
I love picturing what my coffee sees before it sees me.
Dos Jefes is old school, they use a mortor and pestle to remove the skins from the bean after the beans are dried.
Then we got to sample the medium and dark roasts, choosing our favorite to take home as a souvenir. The medium roast was a popular favorite.
Back when coffee shops first began opening in the 1500s intellectuals would meet there to drink coffee and to discuss societal and political issues, etc.; they were called penny universities because coffee at this time was one cent. If you bought one of these patrons a cup of joe they would share their wisdom with everyone at the 'university'.
Hence the saying, a penny for your thoughts.
No one said this to me, I just think people should know.
We roasted beans as well. Every 40 degrees or so a few beans were removed from the roaster so we could see how the color changes with time. The beans are heated until about 430 degrees for a medium roast.
The manager and the tour group celebrated coffee bean roasting with a cerveza (plus the manager thinks that watching beans cool is boring).
Finca de la Luna is an amazing company. They are passionate about their product, are super knowledgeable, and help out the local community. They recently worked with the Peace Corps to fund a project which gave local indigenous kids a dorm room to sleep in so they can attend school which was otherwise a 3 hour walk each way daily.
What a great experience this has been.