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Panama Boquete - Nectar

December 15, 2007
Combined

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

The two coffees we are reviewing in this installment are the result of the coming-together of two separate paths. The first was the "discovery" by Price Peterson, of the Ethiopian Geisha cultivar on his Esmeralda Farm in Panama and its subsequent win at the 2004 Best of Panama competition. This unique, Yirg-like coffee is thought to have arrived in Panama by a complicated route, from its origin in the Gesha forests of the Kaffa region of Southwest Ethiopia. Its win created a stir in the "specialty coffee" community and caused various community members to hunt for occurrences of this cultivar in other locations, in and out of Panama.

The other intersecting path is a movement among some coffee growers and importers, to refine the processing of coffee, selecting-out only the very finest trees and then carefully processing the fruit to produce the highest possible quality. The lots resulting from these efforts are necessarily small and thus the term "micro-lot" was coined to describe the results.

The two coffees reviewed here are at the intersection of these two paths. These micro-lots (actually nano-lots would be more appropriate; there was less than 50 kg., of each coffee), were produced on the Mama Cata Farm in Boquete by a cooperative effort between Mama Cata and Joseph Brodsky (Ninety Plus Coffee), under the supervision of Graciano Cruz (Ninety Plus Development, Los Lajones Farm in Boquete). The introduction of these extraordinary coffees brings us into a new, even more rarified and heady area in the micro-lot world, with the promise of still finer coffees to come.

These outstanding coffees are available by invitation only, from the pioneering roaster/retailer, Miguel Meza (Paradise Roasters, R Miguel). For information about an invitation, go to www.rmiguelcoffee.com or send an email to miguel@rmiguelcoffee.com. Happily, more of these special coffees will grace our cups in the future.

Bob's Review:
This coffee is the same as the Aurora reviewed elsewhere in this installment with one important exception; it was natural-processed. Graciano Cruz used what he has learned from visits to Ethiopia, to develop this process that he calls "Honey B". However he did not allow fermentation of the fruit. When one visits an Ethiopian processing station, passing by the natural-processing drying beds is akin to lying face down in the fermentation tank of a winery. The aroma is unmistakable.

But with no fermentation allowed, this coffee is very clean and devoid of the fermented flavors of the equivalent Ethiopian coffees. There are some in the coffee industry that do not like the flavor imparted by ferment in a natural-processed coffee from Yemen or Ethiopia (personally I like it and think it gives those coffees a special personality) but this Panamanian Geisha is profiled much like its wet-processed sibling except that it's even sweeter. Honey is the operative word. It's a very sweet, honeyed coffee but the acidity, although a lower than the Aurora, tames the sweetness to some extent and prevents the coffee from becoming syrupy.

So here we have a very well balanced coffee, more orange-directed than lemon in both the floral aromas (orange blossoms) and fruited portion of flavor profile. That, coupled with a chocolate malt, nutty/toasty base flavor, makes this a most pleasurable mate to the more aggressive Aurora. A cappuccino from this coffee was a confectionary delight, the coffee's apricot and coconut flavors breaking through the milk with no problem.

Jim's Review:
I cupped this coffee against two other Panamanian Geishas, the Aurora and the non-auction Esmeralda Especial. These are all spectacularly sweet and fruity coffees with predominant apricot and cinnamon flavors. As the scores show, they are among the very world's best coffees produced these last few years,and perhaps forever. My review text is mostly comparative with the two other Geishas.

This was the sweetest of the three Geishas. This is unsurprising, since it is a "miel," a pulped natural process bean, and in this case it is well named, since it even smells of honey. This also shows up in the brewed coffee, which is an enormously sweet and embracing experience. This is the dessert wine of coffee, and it will pair with food of any sweetness. What is surprising for a miel is that for me it was the most acidic and lightest bodied of the three. The extra sweetness also makes this one suitable for a light roasted espresso.

It scores slightly lower than the other two. On the persniketty cupping table, the sweetness and huge fruit works against it, since that covers some of the subtler flavors. It also had a hint of astringency in the finish and when it cooled. But as a brewed cup, it would probably be most people's favorite, since this could be the ultimate comfort food coffee.

Bobs Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.5
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 9.3
Finish: 8.9
Acidity: 8.2
Body: 7.5
________________________________
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 92.9


Jim's Score

Dry fragrance: 4.3
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 9.6
Finish: 9.0
Acidity: 9.0
Body: 7.3
_________________
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 93.7

  • Lighter Roasts: Honeyed and lushly sweet. Apricot Jam.
  • Darker Roasts: A waste. Will turn to brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • As Espresso: Not quite a waste. Very good cappa, and a sweet, apricot espresso. Stop roast a few degrees before the first pops of the second.

 

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UPDATED: December 20, 2007