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February 24, 2017

All you need is love… and coffee // Touring a coffee farm in Boquete, Panama

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Daniel and I didn’t have much planned for the five days that we were in Boquete. We figured that we would do some hiking, maybe take a dip in the Caldera Hot Springs, and, if we were feeling adventurous, make the sunrise hike to the top of Volcan Baru. The one thing we did know we wanted to do, however, was to take a Boquete coffee tour. Although neither of us are big coffee drinkers, the coffee making process interested us. And, since Central America is known for it’s coffee, we figured ‘why not?’. So the morning of our second day in Boquete, we called up a coffee farm and set up a tour.

That afternoon our guide Amy picked us up from a cafe in downtown Boquete. A few stops later, the rest of our tour group had joined us. Then, we started the short but motion sickness inducing drive up the mountain to Finca dos Jefes, the coffee farm that we would be touring.

Coffee, An Introduction

For the first part of the tour, we all sat down around two tables on a patio overlooking the farm. The view was absolutely incredible, and I was pretty distracted by it as the lovely Amy gave us an introduction to the farm.

First, Amy told us about how expat owner Richard first bought the abandoned farm in 2003 when he retired. Originally, he didn’t plan on doing anything with the farm. But then, as retired people generally do, Richard got bored. So his wife kindly reminded him that he had just bought an abandoned coffee farm, and he got to work restoring the place.

We also learned about the growing practices of the farm and history of coffee growing in Panama. I was definitely a fan of their policies regarding the native Ngäbe-Buglé harvesters, who are normally very underpaid. Rather than by the bucket of cherries, Finco dos Jefes pays its harvesters by the hour. This also allows them to focus on finding the best quality cherries on the plant.

As we listened all about the history of the finca and the growing practices of the farm, we sipped on a sample of Cascara tea, made from the skins of the coffee cherry. Tea, I thought to myself, I could definitely get behind, and it was absolutely delicious!

Then, we were able to get our hands on some fresh-picked coffee cherries. Amy instructed us to bite into them, where we found un-roasted, slimy coffee beans. She then showed us what the beans look like after they dry and roast them.

The Actual Tour

With all of this new information in our heads, it was time to stretch our legs and get to the meat of the tour. First, we walked over to the drying tables, where we got to see the dry method first hand. As Amy had explained to us earlier, there are two different methods for processing coffee – the wet and the dry. The age-old dry method is much more environmentally conscious and involves simply laying out the harvested coffee cherries in the sun. Then, you wait for their moisture to decrease to 11%. Pretty simple, right?

Of course, the dry method has challenges of its own, but they can usually be avoided. If the weather is bad, for example, then all you have to do is cover the cherries up until it’s sunny again.

Once the cherries are dry, they turn brown and smooth, as we saw later on in the tour. It was so much fun to run your hands over the dry cherries – it was almost like a tiny hand massage!

Through the rest of the tour, we wandered through the farm. We visited the nursery, where they’re growing new, better quality plants than the ones that were originally planted on the farm. While we were there, Amy talked about how the finca follows the lunar calendar. This means that they grow all of their coffee according to the cycle of the moon. So, all of these cute little trees won’t be planted until the moon is just right.

Later on down the road we also got to peak into the processing facility, and of course see even more crazy mountain views.

The Tasting

After a walk around the farm, we headed back to our tables to learn all about the art of coffee tasting. Amy talked us through the process of coffee tasting while she brewed some of Finca dos Jefes’ own medium and dark roast coffees.

Then, it was time to taste the coffee (and fend off the adorable begging dogs)! And yes, it was pretty darn delicious.

tasting boquete coffee tour

tasting boquete coffee tour

dog boquete coffee tour

The Roasting

The final part of our tour included a volunteer from the crowd – Daniel! With a little bit of hesitation, Daniel measured out some coffee beans to pour into the roaster. Twelve minutes later, and he had a freshly batch of roasted coffee to bring home to his mom.

coffee roasting boquete coffee tour

coffee roasting boquete coffee tour
coffee bean roasting boquete tour

roasted coffee beans boquete tour

At the end of the tour, we all toasted to our freshly roasted coffee with a cool cerveza. And we all left with a bag of coffee to take home. Now, drinking that coffee transports me back to beautiful Panama.

If You Go

There are several different coffee tours available from Boquete, but I highly recommend taking a tour with Finca dos Jefes. For $30 a person, you receive transportation from Boquete, a highly informative tour, two cups of coffee, a cup of tea, a bottle of beer, AND a 5 oz bag of coffee to take home, so it’s definitely value for your money. Plus, the views are incredible and the four dogs are super cute!

dog boquete coffee tour cafes de la luna

To book the tour in advance, fill out the form online. If you’re more of a last minute planner, then you can call them once you are in Boquete. More than likely, a tour will be available for you to take that very day, and you’ll be able to take the Boquete coffee tour of your dreams!

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The comments +

  1. katy@untoldmorsels

    February 24th, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Addie I am a coffee obsessive so I loved reading this post. Learning about the coffee making process from growing to harvest, to roasting and brewing is fascinating to me. I would love to take this tour! Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

  2. Ahila

    February 26th, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Enjoyed the tour of the coffee farm, including the beautiful views. #FarawayFiles

  3. Clare Thomson

    March 1st, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Addie, this is absolutely fascinating and so much of it is new to me. I had no idea they were referred to as ‘cherries’ and I do like the idea that it all happens in line with the lunar calendar. Fabulous thing to do in Panama. Thanks so much for sharing with us on #farawayfiles

  4. oregongirlaroundtheworld

    March 1st, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Living in Europe, I did not realize how much I love Central American coffee until I didn’t get it. I now seek out beans from this part of the world whenever I have the option. Yum. Love the images and welcome to the #FarawayFiles community – we are so happy to have you on board! I have only been to a coffee plantation on Hawaii, but never gone through a tour of the whole process – very cool. Thanks for sharing! Cheers from Copenhagen! Erin

  5. Faraway Files #20 - oregon girl around the world

    March 2nd, 2017 at 8:02 am

    […] ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE… AND COFFEE // TOURING A COFFEE FARM IN BOQUETE, PANAMA | Addie Abroad […]

  6. Joel

    May 9th, 2017 at 4:13 am

    I have spent over six months now trying so many different types of coffee, and I know a couple have come specifically from Panama so maybe even this farm. But Coffee is something that I have loved to explore and very much hope that one day I can visit a farm just like this one. Great post, really enjoyed your writing.

  7. addieabroad

    May 9th, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Boquete has several coffee farms that you can visit if you ever make it there – it’s a really cool experience!

  8. Marvelous Monteverde // 2 Day Monteverde, Costa Rica Itinerary

    May 18th, 2018 at 10:23 am

    […] be perfectly honest, I was not a fan of this tour. Having been on an absolutely fantastic tour of a coffee farm in Boquete, Panama last winter, I had some pretty high standards going into it and wasn’t exactly impressed by what […]

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