Farm: Finca Don K
Altitude: 1700 meters above sea level
Owner: Ricardo Koyner
Town / City: Boquete
Overall: Bergamot, earl grey, delicate
Kotowa Mandarina Natural - Panama
The Kotowa farms (which include Finca Don K – where this coffee was grown) were named by Alexander Duncan MacIntyre, a Canadian who settled in the Boquete region in 1918. Inspired by the high, cool climate of the area, he used the name ‘Kotawa,’ meaning "mountain" in the local Ngobe language to designate the land that currently composes the Kotowa estate.
While in Canada, Alexander had read a newspaper article about a mountainous region called Boquete, an unexplored region in Panama located on the slopes of a mysterious volcano. The stories captured his imagination and led him to visit the region, where he fell in love with the magic of the valley and its people. Four generations on, and Alexander's family are still cultivating and processing coffee in the same traditional way.
On the volcanic slopes of the farm, you can see the distant Pacific Ocean on one side and the near-by rugged mountains of the continental divide on the other. This area is naturally blessed with a climate where the perfect combination of rain, wind, sunshine, clouds and temperature produce an organic coffee with distinctive character.
The production and processing of the coffee fully takes environmental sustainability into account. The farm’s “ecological mill” uses only 1/2 litre per lb of green coffee - far lower than the 10 -20 liters used by many other mills in the world. All the by-products from the milling activity, including pulp and waste water, are used to produce the organic fertilizer that is used on the farm.
Microclimate: Finca Don K is located at 1700 meters above sea level and is right in the middle of Panama - only 40 km from both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. As well as benefiting from the rains from both oceans, the land receives a cool dry breeze from the Atlantic and the moisture from the Pacific.
Furthermore, Finca Don K. is situated on the rich, nutritious slopes of the Baru Volcano. Temperatures range from 12°C at night to 25°C during the day. This variation in temperature triggers the formation of sugars in the coffee cherry, and the volcanic minerals make for the development of full and complex fruit flavours.
Processing: These coffee beans are sun dried for at least 14 days on raised beds right on the farm. This enables the farm to achieve a controlled, slow and even drying time, preventing the coffee cherry cells from breaking due to rapid water loss.
Facilities: Kotowa possesses the only mill in Panama – and probably of many other countries - that uses a coffee resting facility that is refrigerated. Resting the coffee at a cool and constant 15°C, with relative humidity control at 65%, ensures that no changes occur in the chemical composition of the bean and that 65% relative humidity is maintained.
More about the farm & processing:
To process coffees using the natural method, the farm leaves picks the reddest most perfectly ripe cherries at the peak of the harvest. The cherries are then dried on patios or raised beds and are carefully turned on a frequent basis to ensure even drying. The drying process is very slow and uses the traditional, gentle sun-drying system in the cool, dry climate of the farm.
Once the cherries are dried sufficiently, they are then milled. The dried beans are rested for at least two months in wooden silos, a process that allows for the full flavor to be developed. The coffee is then carefully separated and selected by size, weight and colour. Every batch is roasted and cupped to make sure that only the best beans bear the name Kotowa.
Kotowa’s quality control is assured by their traceability system. Each bag of every lot processed has an identification mark that contains detailed information about all the activities of the harvest and milling.
The farm endeavours to protect the virgin forests surrounding the plantation, ensuring that there are no fires in the dry season and that there is no hunting or degradation of the environment. The area is the natural habitat of many birds, both local and migratory. To ensure that this rich biological diversity continues to thrive, Kotowa have planted more than 500 indigenous trees that produce fruits and nuts on which the birds feed. Because of its geographic location and small size, Panama has more bird species than all of North America and Europe together.
For the people that work on the farm, there is the provision of free medical attention and, for the children of workers, a nursery providing both meals and a school program. These social programs have earned Kotowa Farm recognition from UNICEF nine years in a row.
Kowtowa’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/kotowacoffeehouse
Kowtowa’s Estate page - http://kotowacoffee.geishacoffee.com/