Farm: Finca Cafelandia
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried 25x20lbs vacuum packed
Altitude: 1,450 to 1,500 metres above sea level
Owner: Virginia Rojas De Pitty
Town / City: Boquete
Finca Cafelandia Boquete - Panama
Boquete is a small town on the Caldera River, in the green mountain highlands of Panama, in western-most Chiriquí Province, about 60 kilometres from the border with Costa Rica. Because of its elevation, some 1,200 metres to 1,800 metres above sea level, its climate is cooler than that of the lowlands – making it an ideal location for growing high quality coffee. Its scenic location, temperature, and natural environment make it popular with Panamanians and attract tourists from all over the world. In addition to tourism, its main industry remains agriculture, especially the growing of coffee beans. Boquete is well known for its coffee, judged to be among the finest in the world.
In Spanish, the word Boquete means 'gap or opening'. It was through this gap that curious gold seekers trekked, looking for a cheaper and quicker way to the Pacific. Farmers began settling the region near the end of the nineteenth Century. By the early twentieth century, several villages had been populated: Lino, Quiel, Bajo Mono, Los Naranjos, and Bajo Boquete, which now is the town center of the district. Coffee production was to follow shortly afterwards.
This 100% Pacamara lot has been sourced from Finca Cafelandia, owned by Virginia Rojas de Pitti and Minerva Rojas de Wong. The Rojas family was one of the pioneers in the field of coffee growing in Boquete and began coffee tradition in 1900. They inherited the farm from their father Maximo Rojas Arce in 1964, since then on they have worked the land and continued their family’s coffee growing tradition.
Cafelandia is located on a beautiful naturally occurring plateau, in the Volcancito area of the Boquete valley. The farm sits at between 1,450 and 1,500 meters above sea level in one of Panama’s highest regions – near the Barú Volcano (3,475 masl) – and is planted with Typica, Criollo, Caturra, Catuai, Geisha and Pacamara. The fertile volcanic soil provides an excellent nutritional environment for these traditional and high-quality varieties and the cool, high altitude ensure slow cherry maturation and, ultimately, an exceptional cup.
Cafélandia was established in the early 20th century by founder, Mr. Máximo Rojas Arce, and his wife, Mrs. Corina Rovira. Originally the farm had mostly sugar cane and a small trapiche (sugar cane mill) and some dairy cattle; only a small portion of the farm was given over to coffee production. In 1964, sisters Virginia and Minerva inherited the farm. Initially they began working the farm according the traditions learned from their father and their grandparents. However, as the Specialty Coffee movement was introduced to Panama in the 1990s, the sisters slowly gained interest and began to follow the movement carefully. Little by little, they converted the 27 hectare farm over entirely to coffee.
In 2004, the Geisha variety was discovered as a ‘game-changer’ for specialty coffee. As the variety began winning prizes around the world, Virginia was inspired in 2006 to plant a small portion of the farm under it. She also decided to plant Pacamara, which was also producing excellent results in the “The Best of Panama” coffee competition.
These small steps were the first in what resulted in a total transformation of the farm. The sisters have invested a great deal of resource and care into the farm and are finally ready to offer its exceptional production to the world. Equal care has been taken with processing. Coffee is 100% hand-harvested and is processed in small batches to ensure the best possible attention to quality. On the same day as picking, the coffee is hand-selected to remove underripe and damaged fruits. It is then cleaned and pre-selected using a siphon system, which separates dense fruits from floaters, leave and sticks. The coffee is then pulped less than two hours after being received at the farm’s mill and again selected by density. All first class (dense) parchment is dry fermented for between 16 and 26 hours, depending on ambient temperature.
After fermentation, the coffee is delivered to the washing and selection channels, where it is both washed clean of any remaining mucilage and selected again by density. When fully clean, the parchment is laid on the farm’s patios for predrying; after four days it is moved to drying screens where it finishes drying with exposure to sun and wind. If the weather is too humid and cold, the coffee may be finished in guardiolas to avoid must and mold developing.
After it is dried to a perfect humidity level, the coffee is moved into jute bags, where it is rested for 45 days before being delivered to the dry mill and on to export.
The Rojas sisters are always committed, as well, to the social responsibilities that they have as coffee farmers. They have established practical, clean quarters for farm workers and seasonal labourers. They have also established gardens and sports grounds for the youth living on the farm.
The family has managed to continue in coffee, despite all the difficulties that fluctuations in the market price and climate change have presented. Sras. Virgina and Minerva persevere, however; in fact, despite their many commitments and demands of their families and other businesses, they prioritise their small farm and its workers in all they do. Every year they celebrate Christmas on the farm with their workers and seasonal labourers who come in for the harvest. It has always been their dream, since childhood, to be able to do this, and they have made it a reality.