What Boquete, Panama Can Teach the World about Coffee
Boquete is a small valley in the Province of Chiriqui, Panama bordering Costa Rica.
I was blessed to visit a family home every Christmas in Boquete, Panama. This magical town is a breath of fresh mountain air.
As I grew up, Boquete also grew exponentially. Development included homes for Hollywood actors and expat communities. There are now specialty coffee bars at every corner.
Boquete’s microclimate is characterized by soft breezes and consistent light rain showers. The locals call these showers “bajareque.” This unique climate has taken the coffee world by storm, creating what many call the “world’s best coffee.” Coffee experts attribute it to Boquete’s unique climatic conditions.
However, upon further observation and some family perspective, I noticed a different micro-environment influencing Boquete’s coffee success.
It’s All In the Community
Boquete hosts an engaging community of coffee producers. Family-operated farms border each other for miles along colorful mountain roads. There is an air of bloodline competition, beautifully tempered by shared nationalism. This connection creates a dynamic push and pull. There is an interesting relationship between individualist efforts and collaborative distribution.
This community drives each family to innovate creative methods. They all reach for the highest standards of quality. My family has owned and operated a coffee farm for over 60 years. We have created our own branded coffee. In this process, we gained an interest in how the industry works.
Each year, families meet to test their coffee and brewing skills in a derby-like competition. This is hosted by SCAP (Specialty Coffee Association of Panama). SCAP vows to promote the development of specialty coffee in the region. The winners connect to premium buyers that flock from Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and the Netherlands. These buyers pay upwards of $1,000 per pound.
While a happy Japanese businessman flies back home, relishing over his $1,000 pound of coffee, Colombian neighbors face a coffee crisis. There, coffee sells as low as $0.98 per pound from farms that deliver twice the production of the entire Boquete area.
Digitizing the unique social climate found in Boquete could push the entire agricultural industry into the age of information. Monetizing knowledge could become a thing of the past.
Engaging global digital communities would drive the industry towards collaborative practices that level the playing field for producers willing to put in the effort.
Producers Market aims to create digital solutions where producers can connect, share knowledge, and educate each other towards higher levels of possibility.
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