Updated: 07/05/08 | July 5th, 2018
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.
Panama is up with Colombia, Peru, and Costa Rica when it comes to quality coffee. 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.
How was it? I loved it. I learned about how Panamanians grow coffee and their unique style. Here’s a video from my coffee tour in Boquete:
Most plantation tours are half-day tours and cost $10-35 USD, and include a coffee tasting as well as transportation to and from the plantation. They make for a good morning or afternoon tour. You can book them through any hostel or from the tour shops in the center of town. You can leave the same day if you want.
Here are two of the best coffee plantations to visit:
- Kotowa Coffee Farm (Boquete, 507-264-8861, kotowa.com)
- Finca Lerida (Boquete, 507-720-1111, fincalerida.com)
There are a lot of coffee plantation tours throughout this area of Panama. It’s famous for its coffee, and produces most of what Panama exports. You couldn’t walk a block in Boquete without finding a coffee shop.
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