Farm: Finca Lerida
Varietal: 100% Catuai
Processing: Natural Process & sun dried
Altitude: 1,600 to 1,835 metres above sea level
Owner: Ronella Enterprises, S.A
Town / City: Jaramillo Los Naranjos, Boquete
Finca Lerida Catuai Natural - Panama
This unique coffee hails from the world-famous Finca Lérida – the very first coffee plantation ever established in Panama and still renowned today as producing some of the best and most desirable coffees in the world. With its idyllic setting and fascinating origin story, it’s no wonder that the finca is so well-known. But the true secret of its reputation lies in the cup. This Natural process coffee is full of dried fruit and berries: it’s got the provenance AND a stunning profile.
After being selectively harvested, with only the ripest cherries being picked, the coffee is submerged in water to ‘float’ the underripe and damaged cherries away. The denser cherries are delivered to patios to be dried in the sun for between 20 and 22 days. Once it reaches 11 percent humidity, the coffee is stored is collected to be stored and rested for about 60 days before being delivered to the dry mill for processing and export.
Finca Lérida was established in 1917 by Tollef Boche Mönniche, a Norwegian engineer and graduate of the Royal College of Dresden, Germany.
After participating in the design and construction of the Panama Canal locks’ emergency hatches and the gigantic docks in Colon, Toleff Bache travelled to the High Lands of Chiriqui in 1911. He was looking for a place with clean, fresh air to rest and recover from his fourth attack of malaria, contracted in the hot and humid lands of the Panama Canal. After sailing seven days in a little boat along the Pacific shore and riding a horse for many hours, he arrived in a unique spot: Finca Lerida. Nestled on the high ridges of the Central Range and 10 km from Boquete, the property was, at the time, half grasslands and half tropical forest.
In 1924, Mönniche retired from the Panama Canal and along with his wife Julia, moved to Finca Lerida. Here he built the house, completely by hand, in a Norwegian style and planted the first coffee plantation in Panama. Alongside this, he also designed and patented the siphon, a device made to separate good beans from the bad. Coffee plantations worldwide now use this device, including Finca Lerida, where it is still used to select the best cherries for export.
The farm is currently managed by the Chiari Family who co-ordinated the coffee growing, protect the virgin rainforest surrounding the farm and run Boutique Finca Lérida which offers visitor the opportunity to stay on the farm. Finca Lérida’s reputation dates as far back as the first shipment of coffee that Panama exported to Germany in 1929, when the high quality of the coffee produced at this plantation made its international buyers realise that there was more to Panama than just its Canal.