There really is such a thing as beginner's luck. Back in 2003, we had only been open a few months when a coffee broker called to tell us he had a coffee we had to try, a Panama microlot. Since Panama has always been one of our favorite coffee origins, and the broker had given us good advice on our initial orders, we said, “Great, send us a sample.”
Oh, my goodness! The coffee really was amazing, candy-sweet and rich with a silky, smooth body that lingered on the tongue. Best of all, the coffee had a light, bright topnote that made the coffee shine. “Shiny” was the best word we could come up with for a spark that wasn't just berry or citrus, or floral, but a seamless combination that lit up our mouths with every sip.
We bought every bag he had, all six of them, and spent the following year drinking, blending and selling this astonishing coffee. We ran out about the same time the new crop came in, and eagerly called to order more. That's when he gave us the bad news. The coffee we'd grown to love had won the Cup of Excellence and every single bean had been bought by brokers for the Asian market. We've bought other lovely coffees from Panama over the years, but we were never able to find any that came close to that wonderfully shiny coffee.
About the same time, we started hearing about a new coffee cultivar (variety) of Arabica called Geisha. Originally from Ethiopia, it's very hard to grow, but a handful of estates in Panama Boquete had perfected its cultivation and were selling the coffee for a very high premium. The descriptions of the coffee sounded very familiar, sweet, rich, silky with complex topnotes . Over the years, we've wondered if the Panama we loved so much was a Panama Geisha, but the Geishas we found were more expensive than Kona or Jamaica Blue Mountain. As intriguing as Panama Geisha sounded, it was priced beyond our reach.
Until now. One of our importers offered us a small box of green Panama Geisha for only half again as much per pound as green Kona. It's still the most expensive coffee we've ever bought, but we couldn't resist trying it. Panama Boquete Horqueta la Berlina is on its way to us now. Once we receive the coffee, we'll roast and cup it to see if it's the coffee we lost so long ago.
Keep your eyes on our blog to find out if we've found our lost Panama...and how you can try some, too.