Updated: 02/20/2019 | February 20th, 2019
I have a confession: I’m not a coffee drinker. I think the last time I had coffee was about five years ago. The only way I like coffee is when you add in all those other flavors, milk, and whipped cream because it masks the coffee taste and makes it drinkable to me.
I simply hate the bitterness of coffee.
There’s only been one time I enjoyed a cup of java. It was back in 2003 when I was in Costa Rica, exploring the cloud forest in Monteverde. The organic, shade-grown coffee I had there was like drinking chocolate, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I bought a bag to take home and drank it every day.
So when my friends wanted to tour a coffee plantation in Boquete, Panama, I was less than enthused. “Can’t we go hiking instead?” I asked.
“No, we’re doing the coffee tour,” they replied.
We had hiked the previous day and they wanted to do something different. I grumbled, but reluctantly I agreed. Maybe learning about coffee might be better than actually drinking it. Maybe the coffee would be just as good as I had in Costa Rica.
Their Geisha beans are one of the most popular coffee beans in the world as they produce a very aromatic and floral brew. The best coffee can be found in the Chiriqui highlands, where the soil and climate are perfect for drinking coffee. Boquete, Cerro Punta, and Volcan produce the highly sought-after Geisha bean, which has a smooth and aromatic flavor to it. It’s less acidic than other kinds of coffee beans. Many growers offer tours around their plantations, where you can see all the process from picking the berries, roasting and grinding, and have a tasting.
So how was it?
I loved it!
Usually, all coffee tastes the same to me, but the Geisha beans really did have a much more palatable taste. I can see why they’re so popular.
Not only did I enjoy the coffee (which was surprising, I confess) but I learned about how Panamanians grow coffee and what makes their coffee and style unique. Here’s a video from my coffee tour in Boquete:
Panama is one of the top coffee producers in the world, producing over 13 million pounds of coffee each year. But it wasn’t always like that.
Coffee wasn’t brought to Panama until the early 19th century when European settlers started colonizing the region. Today, Panama produces around 1% of the world’s coffee. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you remember just how tiny Panama is. Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer, is over 100 times the size of Panama.
Besides, Panama aims for quality over quantity — which is something I can definitely vouch for after tasting their aromatic brew. Geisha coffee regularly sells for over $100 USD per pound, with prices skyrocketing as high as $800 USD per pound for the best, most sought-after beans.
Visiting a Coffee Plantation in Panama: The Logistics
Most coffee plantation tours are half-day tours that last 3-5 hours. Expect to pay between $15-50 USD per person for a tour, depending on the tour and plantation you’re visiting. Many plantations also have guesthouses where you can stay overnight if you want an extended visit.
Tours include a coffee tasting, a tour of the plantation, as well as transportation to and from the plantation. Both morning and afternoon tours are available. You can book them through any hostel or from the tour shops in the center of town. There are so many available that you can often leave the same day if you want!
Here are some of the best coffee plantations to visit in Boquete:
- Finca Lerida – $45 USD per person. +507-720-1111, fincalerida.com
- Cafe Ruiz – $30 USD per person (with shorter coffee tastings available for $15). +507-720-1000, caferuiz-boquete.com
- Finca Dos Jefes – $30 USD per person. +507-6677-7748, boquetecoffeetour.com/coffee-tours
- Finca Casanga – $30 USD per person. +507-6990-0651, buypanamacoffee.com/tours
There are a lot of coffee plantation tours throughout this area of Panama. In fact, you couldn’t walk a block in Boquete without finding a coffee shop!
Even if you’re not a huge fan of drinking coffee, I would still encourage you to take a plantation tour when visiting Panama. Not only will you learn a lot about the process but you’ll learn about how coffee is grown and how it has impacted the development of this tiny Central American nation.
Book Your Trip to Panama: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite place to stay is:
- Hostel Mamallena (Boquete) – This is a good hostel to meet people in as it’s quite social and they have some cozy common areas, including a garden and terrace. The staff are great too!
- Hostel Gaia (Boquete) – This hostel is in a great location, has reliable WiFi, and a well-equipped kitchen. It’s a good hostel for budget backpackers.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!
Looking for more information on visiting Panama?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Panama with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!
Photo Credit: 2