Meet Finca La Cabra, Our New Coffee Farm in Panama

Photo of Finca La Cabra in the Fog

From Lynelle:

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!

Aerial view of Finca La Cabra
Aerial view of Finca La Cabra in Panama

 

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!

aerial_holes
Aerial view of La Cabra planting area

 

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.

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Lynelle planting seedlings in September

 

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.

Stay tuned!

 


*Why Geisha?
Why are we freaks about the Geisha varietal of coffee? First of all, when you get deep into coffee, every new flavor or fragrance you find is like waking up to a whole new and magical world. That’s what each new Geisha is. A sublime, mind-changing coffee treasure hunt. The Geisha variety of coffee is the equivalent of a rare and exceptional vine in the world of winemaking, and its subvarieties encompass a whole range of transcendent qualities: tantalizing aromas of jasmine and coffee flower circling flavors of exotic fruits and berries all wrapped in a shimmery gossamer of silk and tiny diamonds.
First identified in during an expedition in southwest Ethiopia in 1931, Geisha was transported to Kenya then Tanzania then to CATIE in Costa Rica. That’s where the esteemed Don Pachi found it and took it back to Panama in the 1960’s for its apparent rust resistant attributes.
A relatively low yield crop, Geisha grew under the radar, until the Peterson’s placed one on the table in the 2004 Best of Panama competition and blew everyone away with its singular cup profile and consequent auction record. Since then advances in roasting science and innovations in production and process have unlocked the inherent beauty and promise of Geishas.  Today Geishas are one of the cutting edges of the super specialty coffee movement and point toward potential new directions for many areas of coffee.