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  HOME | Central America

Panama Indians Contribute to Quality of World’s Finest Coffee

BOQUETE, Panama – Beyond the quality that has so impressed the world, what is different about Panama’s Geisha coffee is its careful handling by men and women of the indigenous Ngabe Bugle ethnicity.

These workers painstakingly care for the coffee shrub trees from the time they bloom until the harvesting of the mature coffee beans, in order to obtain the finest selections, which this year will be presented at the 22nd International Tasting organized by the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP).

This was confirmed to EFE by Daniel Peterson, manager of La Esmeralda Ranch, home of the Geisha variety of coffee that has been sold for the highest international prices via the online “Best of Panama” auctions, having been knocked down in 2016 for $601 per pound in a lot of 100 pounds.

In 2013 it also set a record starting price of $350.25 per pound for a 100-pound lot.

This kind of coffee, prized by connoisseurs of this specialty bean, is beginning to ripen in the mountainous west Panamanian district of Chiriqui, where an army of Indian laborers have poured out of their villages to start the harvest.

The hard-working pickers, faced with a strong breeze combined with the micro-climates of the region, together decided to work at an altitude more than 1,700 meters (5,500 feet) above sea level.

The fact is that the harvest not only brings money into the country, but is an opportunity for low-income people to have a better life.

“On our ranch we not only pay them a salary for the work of harvesting, but also pay them proportional benefits, and after the sales have been made each year, we give each a bonus as a further incentive for the work they do in preserving the quality of this coffee bean,” Peterson told EFE.

The businessman noted that the work these people do is very important and “for that reason we also provide scholarships for the children of our permanent collaborators.”

The producers of specialty coffees work closely with the harvesters to achieve the finest quality, because “these are people dedicated heart and soul to this activity,” Peterson said, adding that they hope once again this year to live up to the expectations of the final consumers, because the coffee beans for this delicious drink go through a multitude of hands, from the harvest to the selection stage to the final processes.

 

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