Now Roasting: Finca Deborah Panama Geishas, Terroir and Illumination
Every so often, an opportunity comes around to purchase some of the most internationally recognised, best coffees in the world. A chance to share with you the ultimate flavour possibilities that specialty coffee can offer. Our two new coffees, Terroir and Illumination, are Panama Geishas from Jamison Savage’s Finca Deborah—a perfect example of these kinds of game-changing, once in a lifetime coffee.
We’ve known Jamison and his family for many years, watching coffee competitions or running tastings together while working with the barista guild. We’ve long been fans of their investment and focus on producing the highest quality micro-lot coffees from their uniquely situated farm 1900 masl in Volcan, Panama. There are a few things that make these Geishas so spectacularly one-of-a-kind, and why we’re glad to have the rare opportunity purchase them.
The Geisha Plant
Firstly, a bit about what makes these coffees so interesting: the famous Panama Geisha plant. A coffee varietal that might be the posterchild for how specialty coffee adds value to producers by rewarding unique flavour. They were first planted in Panama and across Central America in the 1960s, cultivated from Ethiopian seeds collected on a field trip in the 1930s. The trees had been planted as national growing programs worked to drive higher yields or disease resistance during the green revolution. But they often didn’t achieve these results and were forgotten, with new plants grown in their place.
At the ‘Best of Panama’ auction in 2004 (where samples are tasted blind by experts, scored and offered for purchase by the highest bidder), a single coffee stood out. It was something incredible, with flavours of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and intense Jasmine aromas, reminiscent of coffees from Ethiopia. It was this Geisha, grown in Panama’s challenging high altitude and low temperature conditions, combined with a market waking up to potential demand for cleaner, more distinctive and sweet coffee flavours, that led to the coffee's success at the auction.
It set off world record prices, and a hunt for the cause and other coffees like it. Farmers around the world have looked to Geishas to create high scoring coffees. Many have tried; most have been unable to replicate the flavours that create the value. It requires those stressful conditions seen at Finca Deborah, and a very focused farming approach that chooses quality over yield.
Washed and Carbonic Macerated Processing
Jamison and his team are true innovators in how their coffees are processed, putting a laser focus on flavour development that shines through in the coffees we’ve selected.
Starting with the simplest methods, Terroir Geisha is a washed coffee where each element of the process is carefully controlled and measured at Finca Deborah. From the brix content of the cherry, the water usage through the de-pulper to reduce water wastage, to the humidity and timeline of a stabilising ‘reposo’ period. The attention to detail continues with each lot Jamison develops, each with its own flavour profile.
The second coffee, Illumination, is a washed and carbonic macerated coffee. In this process, pulped cherries are added to steel tanks. CO2 is then pumped in to remove the oxygen and create a stable, controllable environment that allows greater control of the final flavour. Jamison has led the way in mastering this innovative technique that’s common in the wine industry since their first harvest.
Responsible, Sustainable Coffee Production
Jamison is passionate about creating a farm that represents what highly sustainable, ethical coffee production can look like.
All power is generated through solar panels, and soil is managed through a progressive bio-dynamic influenced approach. Employees are paid well above local minimum wage and predominantly come from the local Ngäbe community. It’s our direct sourcing philosophy that enables us to forge great, long-term relationships with producers like Jamison. We’re proud to pay a premium to source transparently and directly, from world-class producers who put sustainability for their land and communities at the forefront of coffee production.