Returning from the trip to the Pacific side of Panamá has left me with amazing life-lasting memories. One in particular was our trip to Finca dos Jefes, the coffee farm nestled 1,400 meters above sea level in the quaint mountain town of Boquete. The tour involved a brief history of coffee, a coffee production walk, and finally a tasting of the coffee itself. Despite being a college student, I have lived 21 years without ever taking a sip of coffee. Of course, this was the place to experience my first cup.
Coffee farm in Boquete. Photo courtesy of L. Powell
The mountains around Boquete. Photo courtesy of L. Powell
Getting to learn about the coffee production process was fascinating. The tour made all of us realize how intricate and involved the whole operation is. It was also great to see what a sustainable organic coffee farm looks like and what practices they use that make it unique from other coffee farms. We were lucky enough to have a hands-on experience through physically opening the cherries that housed the premature coffee beans, feeling the differences in the cherries as they were drying in the sun, and my favorite: getting to roast the coffee beans myself.
As the only one there who had never tried coffee, I was chosen to be the roaster for the group. This process is very involved through the timing of beans in the roaster and how that relates to the temperature at which the beans are being kept. I periodically took samples of the beans to visualize the process of the roasting. The process is very particular and can make or break the flavors produced by the coffee. It was very special to participate as the roaster and I think I did a pretty good job as well.
The roast. Photo courtesy of L. Powell
Lastly was the coffee tasting portion of the tour. This was the big moment to try coffee and see what I thought. Surrounded by my friends, we toasted to my first coffee experience. Exciting to learn what I thought I took my first sip. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the medium and dark roast coffee black or with cream and sugar. I was told it is an acquired taste, so there is hope for the future with me and coffee. Although coffee is not for me, I enjoyed the experience of creating and all it has to offer. Finca dos Jefes is a place I will always look back at fondly and will, gladly, remember what I learned there.