Decades after Panama achieved independence from Spain, European immigrants began to settle in Panama in the late 19th century, bringing along with them, coffee for cultivation.
Coffee was first cultivated in Chiriqui, a province located in the west of the country, near the border with Costa Rica. However, it did not lead to agricultural production until at least the beginning of the 20th century.
These mountainous regions and their nutrient-rich volcanic soil create numerous microclimates, including a mist phenomenon known as bajareque that slows down the ripening of coffee cherries, ultimately contributing to Panama coffee’s sweetness and complexity.
The bajareque is a phenomenon that occurs from December to March, when a fine misting rain is pushed over from the Atlantic into the highlands. The combination of sun, wind and bajareque provides endless rainbows. Credit: gailhampshire, CC BY 2.0
Another factor that puts Panama on the map of the coffee world is its attention to detail throughout the whole process of coffee production, from the picking, maintenance of the farms, through to the processing.
The best Panama coffees have bright acidity, sweet and balanced with a relatively full body.