It was December, warm, and I remember the sounds of children playing. We were sitting on a picnic table at Common River School in the Sidama region of Ethiopia, Aleta Wondo. We had spent the days prior at Gesha Village, on a beautifully sustainable farm in the far west of the country, with some very good people. And now, here we were, enjoying a cup of La Mula and a beer, discussing a once-in-a-lifetime proposal. “Do you want to partner with us on a coffee farm in Panama?” The answer, a resounding YES.
Introducing our new Geisha coffee farm in Panama, Finca La Cabra!
We’ve partnered with two heavyweights of the coffee world, Willem Boot, owner of the award-winning Finca La Mula and Finca Sophia farms, and Kelly Hartmann of the renowned Finca Hartmann in Santa Clara, Panama. This makes us one of the only coffee companies of our size to be completely farm to cup!
Finca La Cabra is the next natural step for the Mudhouse team. It’s a big new adventure in another country and we have a steep learning curve, but that’s just what makes it like all of the other crazy fun challenges we’ve attacked. And it keeps getting better. The venture will add a host of dimensions to Mudhouse that we don’t even understand yet. We expect it will open up many opportunities for learning and jobs and new coffee career paths. Knowing that we have a continually unfolding road of discovery is exciting to us. There is a lot for us to learn about coffee farming, A LOT.
The details: Finca La Cabra is 11 hectares/27 acres, of which 9 ha/22 acres were cleared by a previous owner. The plan: we will plant Geisha seedlings and reforest with native Panamanian shade trees. We will add two other experimental coffee varieties similar to Geisha in appearance and cup profile, as well as a nursery. In a couple of years we will build a mill and process our own coffees as well as those of Finca La Mula and others up the road. Finca La Cabra will be an ongoing platform for experiments in coffee processing styles and a model for sustainable agriculture.
Seriously, how cool is that?
We first visited the land in February and went back two weeks ago to get to work. We planted and surveyed and planted and collaborated and planted and giggled and planted and planted. It’s 20,000 Geisha seedlings, folks. There is a lot to do.