Boquete’s Tuesday Market: Something for everyone!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

When you come and stay with us here at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, you will be served a different International Breakfast daily with most of the products coming from the Tuesday Market vendors. Along with that, if you are here on a Tuesday, we will encourage you to go to the Tuesday Market and check out all the different locally made and grown products it has to offer! The market is open from 9 AM to 12 Noon and is located across the small bridge downtown in the building known as the BCP Teatro. The market offers something for everyone. Our special favorites are baked goods by Mort’s Bakery, Gluten Free goods from Gluten Free Gold Bakery, designer “Chox” chocolate and Anna’s fresh produce.  While you are at the market, see what “Tuesday Talks” are about! Below is a story of Joyce Kinnear’s experience with the Tuesday Market and Tuesday Talks:

One of the things we like about living in Boquete is the Tuesday market. For us, it fills our need for a Farmer’s Market—enabling us to purchase organic produce, bagels, hummus, freshly made food from Germany, Hungary, and the Caribbean, and also filling our Trader Joe’s requirement for premade frozen food that we can whip up during the week. The fact that said food is tasty Thai, spicy Creole, or wonderful Indian is even better, since we lack restaurants for those and other spicy foods in the area.

We also enjoy most of the Tuesday talks. One of the women in the community spends a lot of time finding interesting speakers on a variety of topics of interest to expats in Panama, from attorneys discussing changes in laws, to geologists describing the potential actions of our local volcanoes, to so many other topics. Today, we listened to four Peace Corps volunteers in small villages between here and the Costa Rican border.

Two of the volunteers are with the part of the Peace Corps that works in education and English language education. Two others work on environmental issues. They all had interesting discussions about how they live and develop projects in small communities to enable people in those areas to access available assistance and increase community interactions.
Of particular interest to us was one young man who is working to improve the quality of home cooking fires among the indigenous. He has gotten grants from the Panamanian government to construct 14 units (and
is working on 20 more) that will reduce the amount of smoke put off by cooking fires in the home and thus reduce asthma related diseases, as well as improve local air quality.

Another young volunteer is working in a school of 700 students in Volcan, a town of about 15,000 near the border. She is doing many things, from teaching English, to teaching Science classes to leading student clubs and groups. Her school gave her a room and some assistance in developing the first library in that town or school. With funds she was able to get from her own meager stipend and local teacher’s equally meager funds, they have been able to start a library with about 20 books in a school of 700 elementary students.
She told us that among these low income (and many indigenous) students, reading comprehension is extremely low. Families are mostly illiterate, books are not around, and students never learn comprehension. The majority fail college entrance exams, because they are unable to pass tests at a fourth grade level. This volunteer is working with the local government, teachers and community to try to increase reading comprehension and improve future life potential for these students.

It was inspiring. Listening to the talks gave several people in the audience ideas for ways to assist the volunteers and local communities to help to enhance the lives of these students and their families.

This small town surrounded by the Mountains of Boquete, Panama is a wonderful place to gather anything from souvenirs to intellectual stimulation! Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast is extremely proud of our community, volunteerism, and the Tuesday Market. Come and stay with us and experience this special place!

Panama Relocation versus Living elsewhere: What do we miss?

blog by Terry Richmeier

If you are thinking about relocating to Boquete, Panama, then you will have to think about what you may miss about living in your own country. We here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast have experienced this ourselves! When you are here in Boquete, you do miss things from your previous home, and when you fly back to see family and friends, you miss things from Boquete. And so have other expats. Here is recent transplants Joyce and Scott’s thoughts:

We have been on a trip back to the Western part of the US for a couple of weeks and will be headed back to Panama soon. So, the question—what have we missed from the US (besides family and friends and our amazing conversations we’ve had the past couple of weeks), and what are we missing now from Panama?

Well, I have missed dry weather. It’s wet season now in Panama, but hot and dry in the Western US. I love hot and dry weather, and I’ve been soaking up the sun. Also, it’s cherry, sweet corn and stone fruit season here, and I’ve been eating as much corn, cherries, peaches, nectarines and especially apricots as I can fit inside for

the drought that we will have when we return to Panama.

It’s been nice to go to a Michael’s arts and crafts store, too. For someone as interested in yarn and painting as I am, having a specialty store in every town is nice. Of course, we have missed San Francisco, the Sierra Nevada mountains, the summer flowers in the US and so much more.

What are we really looking forward to when we get back to Panama? Of course, the people are the most important thing, and we have a number of friends we are looking forward to seeing.

Food also is near the top of this list. We were at Safeway just yesterday and saw super, super green pineapples for $3 each. They didn’t smell like pineapple at all and looked tasteless. I will be glad to see the vendors and their $1 pineapples when we return. The constantly good coffee will be wonderful to return to, as well. We’ve had some nasty stuff at hotels and buffets here (not from our friends, of course!), and I am so looking forward to consistently wonderful coffee every morning—especially when served with the hojaldras downtown (they’re like sopaipillas for you New Mexicans).

It will be lovely to do all of this just after a hike through the green and beautiful mountains filled with hibiscuses and other flowers in and around Boquete.

Life is what you make it, and every place in the world is special and beautiful. The more you travel, the more you feel at home everywhere, but miss other parts of the world that you have grown to love.

We couldn’t have said it better or any differently! For us at Casa de Montaña, we miss family and friends the most! And the only way to solve that problem is for you to come and visit your family and friends here in Boquete, Panama. Give us a look, come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. Surprise your loved ones with a visit and take care of that special place in the hearts of your loved ones that only you can fill!

 

What you may see, smell or hear in Boquete, Panama, that you most likely won’t anywhere else!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

So, I was sitting in the office today and heard the sound of hoofs clanging! I paid no attention as this is a normal and frequent ritual that happens in front of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast. Then it occurred to me that this is NOT a normal daily occurrence in most people’s lives. So, I thought I would write about the different things you may encounter here in Boquete, Panama.

Now that I’ve heard the hoofs of the horse coming down the road, I jumped up and headed directly for the door to snap a photo. Darn it, too late!  I will have to be ready tomorrow and try again. Several days have passed before I could capture the horse and rider but here they are:

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In Boquete, Panama, horses are a way of life and owners seem to take great pride and care for their horses. It’s not unusual to see horses riding up and down in front of the bed & breakfast. Nor is it difficult to spot riders downtown either. In fact once a year, there is a horse parade of over three hundred horses and this takes place in downtown Boquete, Panama. And you can see little ponies every weekend for kids to ride.

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Another bit unusual item in Boquete neighborhoods is the sounds of Rooster’s starting their serenade all hours of the morning! Once you w4are here for a while, you become immune to the sound.  Many people in town raise roosters and hens in order to have food on their table. The roosters can be sold for $9.00 a rooster and the sounds can be heard from near and far throughout the valley!  Roosters are a source of income as well as a way to fertilize the hens and are a major part of the ambiance of Boquete!

Then there is the indigenous butterfly that has see-through wings. An amazing creature that is small in stature and is quite w5unusual.  An amazing snapshot to capture with your cell phone or camera! In order to see these butterflies, you may have to walk up a mountain or two but you will find it all to be worth it.

While you are out climbing the mountain, keep an eye out for the resplendent Quetzal and a sloth or two. There is also the Cotamundi  and a Howler Monkey that you may encounter. In fact the country of Panama is home to 218 mammal species, 226 species of reptile, 164 amphibian species and 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world. Panama also boasts 940 avian species, which is the largest number in Central America.
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/panama/wildlife/animals#ixzz45F9MnZX4

 

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Now, I want to tell you about the smells in the morning and afternoon here in Boquete and at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast. As the bed & breakfast is located just 6 houses away from the roasting plant of Café Ruiz, you will come across the smell of fresh roasted coffee w7twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I’ve been around a lot of people who tell me that they don’t like coffee but love the smell of coffee being roasted! It is an amazing smell and for myself, I find that I’m drooling from the smell of the roast. This makes me want to have another cup of the rich coffee that we serve for breakfast!

Another smell that we get here at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast is the smell of wood burning in the evenings around dinner time. Many people here in Boquete, Panama, do not have a stove or even electricity and so they start a bonfire and get to cooking up their dinners. The smell is never too strong but just a slight reminder of times of camping and sleeping out w8under the stars! I get nostalgic about days gone by of my childhood in Colorado.

We have never lived in a place (or even visited one) where there are huge rainbows on a daily basis! Boquete is one of those places. Usually the day starts out bright and sunny. Suddenly a light misty rain develops (called Bajareque by the locals) and it sweeps the whole valley. The rain is so soft and misty that one can walk out in it and not get wet! Shortly afterwards a rainbow (sometimes two!) starts to develop across the valley. Within half an hour there is a huge rainbow with beautiful vibrant colors visible across town from all different vantage points. I have taken dozens and dozens of photos of the rainbows over the years and I never get tired of them. Our guests find this phenomenon mesmerizing. One day my partner was driving along the Bajo Mono loop and saw that there was a rainbow very close to him. Before he knew it, HE WAS DRIVING THROUGH THE RAINBOW! This kind of stuff doesn’t happen every day. And no, in case you are wondering, he did not find a pot of gold!

 

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You will also hear many different sounds of birds that you don’t normally hear elsewhere. One of my favorites, and at first most confusing, is a bird that sounds like he is whistling at you because you are so gorgeous! You know that sound your loved ones makes when you dress up really nice and they are stunned at how nice you look?!  For me, at first, I thought someone was whistling at me. I would look out the bedroom door and window and wonder who the heck that is. Not seeing anyone. It took me a couple of days before I knew that it was a bird!

Have you ever watched a couple of great big ox’s walk in front of your home with a farmer behind them taking them to the field to work? Or have a hen run across the road, jump your fence and end up walking right into your bedroom? Well, we have! And it’s a joyous thing to get these extra sights, smells and sounds along with the usual, daily, neighborhood children playing and people just stopping by to say hi!

We really look forward to you coming and staying with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast to experience these extra sights, smells and sounds for yourselves!

 

 

105 years of Boquete, Panama: An Incredible Anniversary Celebration!

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata

Having lived only two months and a half here in Boquete, it was a joy for us to be at the celebration of the 105 years foundation of the district of Boquete.medellin

When I found out there was going to be a horse parade I got really exited! I grew up in Medellin Colombia, and we also have a horse parade there every year  for  “ La feria de las Flores”.( I think I will have to talk about that in another blog. ) So obviously I love horses and I love parades, it’s a tradition for me, and since we don’t live in Medellin, it was wonderful for me to be able to show  my kids a little bit of my traditions in another country!

 

First I would like to share with you about the foundation of Boquete!  In Spanish, the word Boquete means ‘gap or opening’. It was through this gap that curious gold seekers trekked, looking for a cheaper and quicker way to the Pacific. Farmers began settling in the region near the end of the nineteenth Century. By the early twentieth century, several villages had been populated: Lino, Quiel, Bajo Mono, Los Naranjos, and Bajo Boquete, which now is the town center of the district.

boquete viejo

Boquete was founded on April 11, 1911. Initially, the head of the district was Lino, but it was moved soon after to Bajo Boquete. For many years, the district had three “corregimientos” (townships): Bajo Boquete, Caldera, and Palmira. In 1998, the “corregimientos” of Alto Boquete, Jaramillo, and Los Naranjos were created.

The creation of the District of Boquete was decreed by the Law 20, dated January 17, 1911. This law was sanctioned by Pablo Grosemena, then President of Panama. The first municipal authorities settled on April 11, 1911 and their names were:

  • Felipe Gonzales (Mayor)
  • Maximo Santamaria (Magistrate)
  • Camilo Castillo ( President of the Council)
  • Domingo Turner ( Secretary)
  • Paulino Ruiz (Treasurer)

In addition to tourism, Boquete’s main industry remains agriculture, especially the growing of coffee beans. Boquete is well known for its coffee, judged to be among the finest in the world, which I love too, I mean, do you know any Colombian who doesn’t love coffee?!

So now, on April 11, 2016 we celebrated the foundation of this beautiful town.

reina abanderarotraje de fantasia

The celebration lasted for three days, starting on Friday with the election of the beauty queen, where the girls showed to the public beautiful fantasy dresses. The election of “el abanderado” and a wonderful folklore dance where the women were dressed with “la pollerapollera”. La pollera is the costume typical of Panama. It consists of a long skirt, sometimes with a colorful and beautiful embroidery that pairs with a blouse of the same color as the skirt, “las peinetas” which is a golden hair accessory and “tembleques” which were originally made of fish scales and pearls.

 

 

On Saturday morning the little kids in town had a lot of fun with a “cabalgata’ on their own with toy horses. It was both really cute and funny to see them walking on their little toy horses.  They also had games and “pinta caritas” (girls painting the kids faces) for them.

cabalgata niños

And so it was time for the big cabalgata! I was so excited and also worried I wasn’t going to make it to the cabalgata in time to watch it. All the signs said they would start at 1 pm. It was getting closer to 3 pm and I was still at home trying to make all my family to jump in the car and get going. Try to do that with two babies and two dogs!

When we got there I saw all the horses near their trunks and I thought I had missed it. My husband kept telling me that the parade wasn’t going to be at 1 pm and I didn’t want to believe him – I really am a kid when it comes to horses!IMG_2712

So we walked around town and we saw these little cute ponies and my son immediately fell in love with it and wanted to ride it. Oh it’s times like these I wish I was a kid too so I could ride it as well!  He was so happy he could ride the pony that I am pretty sure he wanted to take the pony home with us (I kind of did too!)

 

There were so many things at the fair, from food, drinks, popcorn and “raspao” which is a traditional treat. It’s a cold beverage made out of ice, liquid flavor and condensed milk, not so healthy but so good for those hot days! We stopped and had some at the kiosk of a very nice gentleman who gave me extra condensed milk because I took a picture of him.  IMG_2717 IMG_2715

 

The people started to gather on the sides of the streets and got ready to see the horses pass by.  I heard some familiar music that made me think about my dad and I started looking toward where it was coming from. I saw this guy playing an Andean flute, so off course it was familiar to me – my dad loves that music and I grew up with it.

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As I listened the music, in the background the horses started to appear and I was starting to get excited! The parade started with the “abanderado” or representative of the celebration, followed by the rest of the horses and some cars with music bands. God were they pretty!

IMG_2765 cabalgata

 

The horses looked so healthy, beautiful and the riders looked so proud!  I would be very proud too! I specially loved the paso fino horses since some of them were even dancing to the music and they looked so gorgeous.  I was so amazed by the fact that several kids were riding their own big horses like a professional!

The parade lasted for three hours and it was so worth watching! Every time they passed by they would be doing something different, between dancing to the music or showing their beautiful pasos finos.  I was so in love. One of the horses lost a shoe in the middle of the street and so my husband insisted on taking the shoe. So I took the shoe and brought it home with me, it was a memento for me. My husband says it brings good luck.  I just hope it would bring a horse too!

 

What I really loved about the fair is that they did a great job in including everyone in the family to enjoy the celebration. There was dancing and traditional music presentations, the kids parade, the big horse parade and they even had a disco!  On Sunday they had a special morning for the furry members of the house. They had a dog and cat parade, custom competition and a lot of games. My two little furry babies were so happy to make new friends!

IMG_2684 pets day

It was time to celebrate and give thanks to God for the foundation of the town. The people of Boquete attended a thanksgiving mass where they prayed for Boquete and celebrated the anniversary.

church day

The experience of the fair was really magical for me and my family. We could see how proud the Boqueteños are of their culture and even the expats looked proud.  It made me proud too of belonging here now. I just wish there would be more fairs like this one!

Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast and enjoy the beauty of Boquete – our people, horses, coffee, flowers and birds!

 

A local family moves to Boquete

Blog by. Maria Isabel Zapata

 

panama. aptm mariaWhen my husband first told me he was thinking about moving to Boquete my first reaction was: What in the world are we going to do there? I thought of Boquete as a small village with nothing to do. I had different plans for us in the city, and even though I wanted a change, I never thought of Boquete as that great change. We were living in a small apartment, my father in law, my husband, my two kids, my two dogs and me! Beautiful view of the city but too expensive for what we could pay and not enough space.IMG_1436

So my husband decided I should come and stay for a few days in Boquete. We arranged to come for Christmas and spend it with his partner, so I could meet him and see where my husband was going to be spending most of the time.

It was a long 7 hour drive with the kids, I would have preferred to come by air. We arrived late in the night so all we wanted was to sleep. It was so nice and different to wake up with the twittering birds and a nice cup of coffee.

My expectations were not high but as soon as I got to Boquete, everything in me changed. Everything was so calm and people were nice and polite. The weather was perfect, and my kids were so happy. Just driving around town and seeing the beautiful gardens of Boquete made me feel at peace.

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IMG_1446The berries! Oh I love berries! It was a little difficult to find fresh berries in the city. So it was a great thing for me to be able to have fresh ones. I specially loved the strawberry and cream tarts from a German bakery. The owner makes the cream fresh and by hand. I have to confess that every now and then I can’t resist the temptation and I have to have one.IMG_1465

I met Debra on this trip and spent Christmas with her, Pascal and friends. I have to say that they made me feel like at home, and my kids were so incredible happy. My husband so calm, that I just didn’t want to leave. Trust me when I say, that’s how you will feel here at Casa de Montaña.

We went back to Panama City and decided to definitely move to Boquete. It was a sweet and sour decision for me. I loved Boquete and couldn’t wait to move, but I sure was going to miss my girlfriends and it was hard for us to leave my father in law, since he didn’t want to move with us. I decided to see my friends for one last time since we were moving soon

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We already knew where we were going to live, since we were taking Pascal’s old house. If you decide to move here and don’t know where yet, here at Casa de Montaña we have an over view tour of Boquete, in which you can see the different neighborhoods. We can also help you set up an appointment with a realty company here in Boquete.

I was really excited about moving, but there was something else I wanted to do, which was to find some volunteer work to get me out the IMG_1804house and spending a few hours a day with adults. I’ve been a full time mom for the past 3 years and now as my children would be in school it would be the perfect time to do something on my own. That’s how I found out that Manzar and Terry where looking for someone to volunteer in the office part-time.   Debra suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to gain some new skills in the tourism industry. How amazing was that! I felt like everything was in the right path and went ahead and set up a skype interview with Manzar and Debra.

So now it was time to pack, and let me tell you… you never know what you have until you have to move! It was a kind of stressful moment, but even though my kids were wondering why everybody was packing their toys and what were we doing, they behaved so well they even helped us pack!

You might wonder what made us take the decision to move here. We wanted a change of life. Better quality for less cost. We really got tired of the city and small apartment. We wanted a nice house with a garden where our dogs and kids could play, and not have to worry about the cars passing by. Being here on Christmas made us realize this was the place.

IMG_2361Finding school for our kids wasn’t too difficult either. We wanted a place near Casa de Montaña, so that I could go pick them up after work. We found this little place called Aprendizaje Divertido, just a few blocks from here. The teacher was lovely and the kids there looked happy. We didn’t look for anything else and decided right away. Since my little baby is only one year old and has always (and only) been breastfeeding, it was a hard adjustment for her not to be with me for half a day. The teachers were so lovely and understanding of her feelings, it helped her feel better and now she is very happy. IMG_1874

Moving here was the best decision we could have made for our family. We now live in a house with a garden and fruit trees. My dogs can be free and they even have little furry friends around the neighborhood they visit (without our permission!)

We have breakfast outside every Sunday morning, and there is so many things to discover here that we never get bored. So far we have visited Volcan, Janson’s Coffee farm and Cerro Punta. We go for walks around town every time we can. We love visiting the gardens, being able to have a cup of coffee with a beautiful view, but most of all we love the great quality of life our kids are having here.

Come and stay with us at Casa de Montaña! I assure you, you won’t want to leave!

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Boquete Coffee – High quality coffee that is performing well on the international market!

By Eliecer Andres Lay

Are you a coffee enthusiast? Then look no further! A visit to some of our Boquete coffee farms is a must when you stay with us at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast.

coffehttp://infusionistas.com/cafe/panama-renueva-la-oferta-del-cafe-de-calidad/

The perfect weather and altitude of Boquete, as well the volcanic soil provides excellent conditions that make the coffee produced in Boquete one of the best coffees in the world. Panama is a small country that produces great coffee crops. Because of the limited land mass, growers in the highlands, such as Boquete, decided to specialize when it comes to coffee production. Coffee from Panama competes for quality, not quantity. Most Panamanian coffee is grown in Boquete, or highlands of Chiriqui. Farmers are very proud of their crops. Coffee quality control includes testing for soil, elevation, weather patterns and even the vegetation growing around the coffee bushes. Panama plants different types of coffee, the most famous is a variety called “Geisha”. The requirements for Geisha are very strict and requires great care in the production. This coffee has been known to be exported and sold at record prices to Japan and Taiwan. At the last auction held by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the best bid for 14.5 pounds Panamanian coffee got sold for $289.29!!!

 

Different “Coffee Tours” that are available in Boquete

Here at Casa de Montaña we think that Finca Dos Jefes tour is the best! It is a very informative and interactive tour combining a field experience as well as an opportunity to roast your own coffee to your liking and bring it back with you to take home! There are several Boquete tours you can take or just buy their coffee that is not always available anywhere else in Panama. Finca Dos Jefes, Kotowa, Café Ruiz, Finca Lérida, Finca La Milagrosa, Janson Familia Coffee and Hacienda La Esmeralda are some options available to you for a tour. Each plantation has its unique appeal. Visit one or more on your next visit to Boquete. Below is a video of Finca Dos Jefes Coffee Tour:

 

Did you know… there are several steps in producing coffee?

There are many steps in bringing coffee to your favorite cup to help you wake up in the morning! Come to your tour fully equipped with these steps and impress your tour guide:

  • Cultivation: Apart from the differences in the systems of pruning and cultivation of Arabica coffee, most others follow the same general pattern in most areas where coffee is grown.

 

  • Propagation: The coffee is spread on a large scale by means of plants grown from seed or by grafting or cuttings. In the case of propagation by seed, there are procedures one has to follow related to storage of the seed to prevent spoilage. Thus for Arabica, for example, dry air storage is recommended at temperatures of 10 ° C with a moisture content of 10-11%

 

  • Shade: While there is still some debate among experts about the need for shade coffee cultivation, it should be noted that the modern trend is not to use shade plants, and the vast majority of new plantings are made ​​without this. It is a proven fact that coffee invariably produce higher yields without shade plants. It should be noted, moreover, that in the case of using shade plants, they would have to:
  1. a) Be productive
  2. b) Have similar needs for water and nutrients because otherwise an imbalance between coffee and these plants occurs

 

  • Soil Management: The most difficult issue with coffee cultivation, especially in tropical regions of the highlands, is the problem related to soil conservation. It is essential in order to establish a coffee plantation, one has to protect the soil from the erosive action of tropical, torrential rains as soon as the clearance is made. In mountainous areas and on steeper slopes, coffee can be planted along the contours. The selective weeding, removing plants that can compete with coffee trees, and / or planting of herbs to enrich and protect the soil, can be used in order to improve the quality of coffee plants on steeper slopes.

 

  • Fertilization: It is shown that fertilizers are absolutely necessary in the cultivation of coffee trees that are in the sun as well as in soils that are especially in middle to low fertility. In recent years there has been an introduction of a trade liquid fertilizer or foliar fertilizers. These are applied by spraying the leaves of plants, provide supplementary nutrients, and are similar to the solid fertilizers that are applied to the soil.

 

  • Pruning: There are two main aspects to consider regarding the pruning of coffee: first, the training of young trees to build a strong and well balanced plant with good structure, fruiting branches, and second, the pruning of branches so they keep producing fruit (coffee beans).

 

  • Harvest: The harvest season varies depending on the proximity to the tropics of the country producing the coffee. Generally the harvesting of coffee is done between October and February in countries closer to the Tropic of Cancer, and from May to July in the countries closest to Tropic of Capricorn.

 

  • Breeding and Selection: The breeding and selection of coffee has continued in two main channels – one has been the outstanding selection of local breeds, in various countries where coffee is grown; the other is the improvement of Arabica and other species.

 

  • Pests and diseases: Many efforts have been made ​​towards introducing agronomic techniques that include controlling weeds, pests and diseases. The effects of weeds are well known to the farmers. With the rising cost and scarcity of labor, it is necessary to find the most economical solutions that cause the least amount of damage to the environmental.

 

 

An excerpt from Infusionistas.com

Panama has not historically been “famous” in the cultivation of coffee, but rather largely overshadowed by its neighbors in this regard. That perception has been corrected in recent years mainly because of the great attention that has won the Geisha variety grown in farms in the region, capable of producing a “floral”, highly appreciated and sought after coffee in the international market. It is only in the district of Boquete in the province of Chiriqui where small family farms produce these unique coffee, brightly colored, with floral aromas and fruity clean taste, considered among the best in the world. The cool, moist mountain air, organic practices, expanded areas for growing shade coffee, painstaking care, all help to produce exceptional coffee. Panama has held annual coffee competitions since the late 90s, but it was in 2004 that the Finca La Esmeralda won the first prize and gained fame with the Geisha variety grown in a high elevation on their farm.

This variety of Arabica coffee exported from the wild forests of Ethiopia, was introduced in Central America in 1950, but its production was virtually non-existent in Panama until recently. Today there are several Panamanian farms that offer this variety as well as in Colombia and Costa Rica. There are many varieties of Arabica coffee beans that include flavors that are floral, fruity, sweet, or like chocolate! These are being produced in Boquete Panama and other highland areas of Panama. Panama has the lowest coffee production in Central America, however, the coffee growers in Panama are committed to quality over quantity and have established a solid reputation for excellence with the aim of sustainable growth of coffee targeting the gourmet market. In 2010, again a batch of this famous product of the Hacienda La Esmeralda farm has set a new world record when sold in an online auction at $170.20 per pound (460 grams).

Boquete have some of the top producers of coffee in the world and it is the best place to go and taste a good coffee. Boquete offers you different types of coffee tours – starting from seeing the end to end processes and ending with roasting of your own coffee to take home! One of the coffee processing plants (Café Ruiz) is located just a few doors down the hill from Casa de Montaña! During your next trip to Panama do not forget to visit Boquete and try one of the best coffees in the world.

Boquete’s Green Season – A time to cleanse your body and soul!

A view from the guestroom window

A view from the guestroom window

It is not a surprise to us that some tourists prefer coming to Boquete during the Green Season when it rains the most. We thoroughly enjoy this time of the year as well. The color green is much greener! Come to think of it, ALL colors seem to be so much more vibrant. The peak rainy months are September and October. In the U.S. it’s starting to cool down and there is always the possibility of snow in the Mountain, Upper Midwestern and Northeastern states. Here in Boquete, we enjoy both the Green and the Dry seasons and that’s all we have to be concerned with.

We tend to start the morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky. Around 11 AM, the clouds begin to roll into the valley over several hours (we took pictures of some of this happening, out of the window of our guestrooms, the other day). Then around 2 pm, it starts raining with a wonderfully soothing cool breeze. The perfect time to sit on the back porch, enjoy some coffee or cocoa or even a nice glass of wine and watch the rain fall to the earth and create the “purifying green” that we get to enjoy here year around.

DSC00657What’s also very nice about September and October is that you can plan to do the zip line tour, coffee tour, quetzal walk and any other tours in the mornings when it rarely rains. There are fewer tourist here and there seem to be discounts available for those who plan on having an adventure here at this time of the year. Also, in general there are greater varieties of blooming orchids and flowers here as well.

For those of you who especially enjoy having some time to read a book, sit and watch the rain and just have an incredibly slow relaxing time, this may just be the months of the year for you to come down and visit us!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Awesome Coffee Facts Part 1: Roasting!

About roasting coffee:

Coffee BeansThe first stage is endothermic.  The green beans are slowly dried to become a yellow color and the beans begin to smell like toast or popcorn.

The second step, often called the first crack, occurs at approximately 205 °C (400 °F) in which the bean doubles in size, becomes a light brown color, and experiences a weight loss of approximately 5%.  The corresponding Agtron number for this color is between 95-90.

The second step is followed by a short endothermic period which is followed by another exothermic step called the second crack.  This second pyrolysis occurs between 225-230°C, and the roast color is defined as medium-dark brown (Agtron #50-45) (Davids, 68-69).  The second pop is much quicker sounding and the beans take on an oily sheen.

Did you know that you can roast coffee beans with a airpop popcorn popper?

Stay tuned for part 2 – Espresso!

 

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