Panama: Day 3 Coffee Tour and Hike

So, the third day, we took a coffee tour at Finca Lerida (which is also where we were staying). The hotel is on the working coffee farm. They have 50 hectares of land, which is mostly used to farm coffee. B and I were the youngest people on the tour by at least 30 years. And since I look 12, I am pretty sure that our fellow tourmates thought I was B’s child bride.

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Cesar, our awesome coffee tour guide, took us on a little walk up the paths to where part of the coffee plants are grown. I wish I could repeat everything he told us about coffee, but really, the big things were that red cherries are the best to be picked (who the hell knew that coffee originated from a red cherry?) and that Panama in general experienced a decline in coffee farm workers because places like Costa Rica offer them better, government subsidized deals, to come work there.

Doing rough, manual labor always appeals to me. B and I might have actually looked at each other with a face like, “we should come work here” but then Cesar mentioned that coral snakes can often appear in the vines, and I effing HATE snakes so I pretty much decided THAT was not happening for me. B could stay, I’d meet him back in New York when the harvest was over.

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I also had no idea that coffee beans just didn’t fall off a tree brown and roasted. I don’t drink coffee, and even when I did, there was never much thought process involved so this tour was pretty informative. Also, Cesar had amazing analogies, facial expressions and a sound effects for most of his anecdotes, which I found highly amusing.

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One could say I learned about roasts, but by now, I’ve forgotten most of it. We spent an absurd amount of time talking about geisha coffee, which sells for $75/lb. and is a specialty coffee that tastes like tea. You coffee drinkers are real complicated people, you know that?

In any case, Finca Lerida’s coffee goes to Japan in this raw, green form. That’s where they do most of their business. Asia. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as being caffeinated is a world wide problem, not just one of sleep deprived Americans.

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We also partook in some “cupping” where we’d sniff the different roasts. I have no knack for this kind of thing, but I do love the smell of coffee so I readily stuck my schnoz in these cups and inhaled deeply.

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At the end of the tour Cesar told us to go check out the room where they store all the coffee. It’s actually not open to the public, but above the coffee shop there was a seating area with a plexiglass window overlooking the store room. All those bags are coffee. Cesar said you have to suit up to go in there. Wait, let me say it again, THOSE BAGS ARE ALL FULL OF COFFEE BEANS. That shit is crazy.

As if huffing coffee wasn’t exciting enough, B and I also took a hike that afternoon to a set of waterfalls past the Quetzal Trail.

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See that rainbow at the bottom? I was very excited about this. To get to these falls, we had to hike up and down a steep, muddy path. There is no sense of scale in this photo, and I won’t try to impress you with how high they were, but they were easily 20 feet. The maybe more comical/scary part of these waterfalls were these dinky fences made out of timber. They were like, rustic pioneer fences. They were the only thing preventing you from falling into an abyss of sharp rocks and shallow water. I do always tend to appreciate the “living on the edge” aspect of traveling outside of the United States, since everything here is made for imbeciles and to prevent these imbeciles from injuring themselves and suing someone. I personally don’t mind a bit of danger in my life.

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For dinner that night, we had a seriously delicious dinner at the Panamonte Inn. We sat out on the porch, and the evening was lovely, and we were basically the only people there. The food was SO. FRIGGING. DELICIOUS. I had trout with almonds and it was actually so good that I can still imagine what it tastes like. Then we had an array of desserts and I even drank coffee, which I think is why I spent half the evening laying in bed and staring at the ceiling.

Panamonte Inn Dining Room
Lemon
Wine

As you can see, the photos are getting there! Still only like 5,000,692 more to upload. And as always, you can see everything I’ve uploaded thus far here on my flickr. I haven’t quite worked out the labeling and tagging of everything yet.

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2 comments
  1. What great pics and a great article. Must have been a fabulous experience!

  2. Thanks! Yes, it was quite an amazing trip and this isn’t even all of it! More to come…

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