Panama Origin and Abu Coffee Update
The harvest season is in full swing in Panama and I had the opportunity to visit recently, catching up with old friends and tasting some early samples from the 2023 harvest. I also had the opportunity to visit an exciting new growing region that is known as El Cotito/Los Pozos.
Los Pozos/El Cotito
This is the first time in three years that Panama has had a relatively normal summer, which typically coincides with the harvest. Summer/harvest in Panama extends from November until March, but for the past three years the weather has been wet and cold during what are supposed to be the driest and warmest months. The reason for all of the wet weather is the La Niña weather pattern, which is characterized by cooler ocean temperatures and occurs every three to five years. This time around we seem to have held onto La Nina for two to three years consecutively – certainly not what anyone expected.
Cupping coffee in Volcan
At the farm level la Nina has caused all sorts of problems, complicating the harvest of coffee, and impacting the flowering and germination of new coffee fruit. I heard the same story from farmers on both side of the volcano, in Boquete and Volcan, and down to the border with Costa Rica. Yields have been down by anywhere from 30%-50% for farms at elevations of around 1500 meters above sea level, while higher elevation farms, especially those over 1800 meters, have seen yields reduced by 90%. It is just too cold and wet on these farms for the coffee trees to flower and produce cherries.
Luckily the weather has taken something of a turn, and we are back, for now, to more normal weather for the season. The week I was in town was marked by sunshine and clear skies, as well as some of the dry wine, typical of summer. As a result, the hope is that we will be seeing the normal flowering and germination in April/May of this year, which will mean better harvests in 2024.
Jose Luttrell, Abu Coffee updating us on the 2023 Harvest
While in Panama I caught up with Jose Luttrell, of Abu Coffee, whose coffee has been in regular rotation as part of our Small Lot Series for a few years now. We are currently featuring a natural processed Geisha from the 2022 harvest, which is a beautiful representation of varietal, terroir and processing.
Interestingly Jose has had a pretty decent harvest at Abu this year, largely due to the fact that a number of newly planted sections of the farm have come on line. He also feels that the weather in and around his farm has not been as cool as that in other parts of Boquete and Chiriquí. He doesn’t get the dense fog called bajareque on Abu, unlike other parts of Boquete which experience this fog much of the year. His unique microclimate, elevation around 1500 meters, and a protective canopy of shade trees, seems to help make Abu resilient to extreme cold-weather brough on by La Nina.
We cupped a table of his early 2024 harvest samples, and I was blown away by the natural Geishas, which are characterized by an intense mandarin-navel orange juiciness. I also noted floral and distinct raspberry in a couple samples, and hope to be able to purchase these lots for 49th. In the meantime you can enjoy one of his best lots from the 2022 season right now.
Shop Panama Abu Geisha here