About Panama Finca Auromar Geisha Washed
We have been buying and offering Robert Brenes' Finca Auromar coffee for a number of years and it is always a solid Geisha. Like most agricultural products, coffees have some season variations, but Auromar can be counted on in most years to be among the better Geisha coffees coming out of Panama. Though we have known Roberto for years, 2018 was the first time we got to visit his farm in Volcan, very close to the Costa Rica border. It is surrounded by some other notable farms but Roberto's farm is memorable for the sheer wildness of the property. As you stand around you mainly see forest and can hear the sounds of wild monkeys in the background. Interspersed amongst shaded forest canopy are his Geisha coffee trees.
Finca Auromar has been in Brenes' wife's family for generations, and Roberto sees coffee farming as something to do through his retirement years. He is also head of the Panamanian stock exchange so he has a lot of knowledge of international finance; Panama, because of its centralized location and eponymous canal, is a fast growing country with interests from all over the globe. The capital, Panama City, is sometimes referred to as the "Dubai of the Americas" and is a place with much international investment. It wasn't always that way. During the Noriega years when under dictator rule, Panamanians suffered and lived in fear. A younger Brenes was an outspoken critic of the Noriega regime and was twice exiled from the country, something of a badge of honor when looking back on it. Educated in Panama through secondary school, Brenes went to Columbia University in New York where he earned an MBA, which led him to work in banking when he returned to his country. Later, while exiled and in South America, he transitioned his career to investment banking. Post Noriega and exile, when Panama was coming out from under dictatorship, Brenes was offered the role of Central Banker for the country. The zeal he brings to everything in his life is now being poured into his coffee farming and the results are obvious.
Geisha is a seed variety native to Ethiopia and probably a relative of the Longberry, with a somewhat large and elongated shape. This seed was experimentally planted in Boquete Panama along with many other varieties as a test of what might grow well in this particular micro climate. The result was the birth of a superstar in the world of coffee. Originally planted and brought to celebrity by the Peterson family of Hacienda Esmeralda, this variety started to break price records and the reputation and market for this coffee continues to grow.
We normally offer Finca Auromar's natural processed coffee, but were able sample and purchase a small amount of washed Geisha this year. This is a mixed lot from several plots around the farm, and we were struck by the depth of flavors this intermingling created.
- Name: Auromar Estate Geisha
- Producer: Roberto Brenes
- Growing Region: Jurutungo Candela, Volcan
- Varietal: Geisha
- Elevation: 1600 meters (5250 feet)
- Processing: Washed
- Drying: African beds
Cup Characteristics: Aromas of tobacco, vanilla, and coffee blossom. Flavors of red apple and jasmine. A clean washed geisha that is delicate and floral.
Roasting Notes: Like most dense, hard bean and delicate coffees, we always suggest keeping it to the lighter roast side, maybe midway between first and second crack. This maximizes nuances, in this case the sweet acidity and floral Geisha notes that further roasting will diminish.
Panama coffee facts:
Population (2018): 4.1 million people
Coffee Production: 100,000 bags (60 kg)
Country bag capacity: 132 pounds - 60 kg
Domestic Consumption: 50,000 bags
Coffee Export: 50,000 bags
Cultivated Area: 26,000 Hectares (64,200 acres)
Harvests: October - February
Arabica Introduced: Arabica was imported from Costa Rica in 1820.
Specialty Coffee Regions: Boquete and Volcan, near Volcan Baru, Chiriqui.
Grades: Strictly Hard Bean (SHB), HB.
Farms: About 30,000 farms.
Botanical Varietals: Typica, Caturra, Gesha, Catuai, Pacamara.
Panama is a rising star in the specialty coffee world. In the Boquete in particular, farmers are taking Arabica coffee cultivation to new levels and recent auctions of small, specialty lots have garnered record, if not silly, prices. Nonetheless, some of the coffee is excellent. Gesha, a varietal that stems from Ethiopia, has been grown here with good success, yet other cultivars noted above, can produce superb results.