Who doesn’t love a rich, fragrant, steaming, dark cup of coffee?
Well, okay, there are a lot of people who don’t love coffee–but, there are still millions and millions who do! And even though there are plenty of people who drink coffee but don’t know a single thing about what good coffee is, there are those who have a coffee palate who truly appreciate the richness and smoothness of quality coffee.
Quality coffee is grown right here in Panama! In fact, Panama grows some of the best coffee in the world. Ever heard all the buzz about “Geisha” this and “Geisha” that? Geisha is a grading of coffee beans rather than a specific variety of coffee plant or bean. And, guess what? There are plenty of coffee farms here in Panama who have attained the Geisha grade on many of their coffee plants. The high-quality coffee from Panama, grown in rich volcanic soil, is sought after by many of the world markets. People pay big bucks for these beautiful little beans that translate into that wake-up juice that we crave. In fact, in 2004, a Panamanian Geisha coffee sold for $21 per pound and then, in 2013, broke records in global auction by selling for $350 per pound.
There are many other countries that come to mind when you hear “coffee” other than Panama. And people may wonder why some coffee only costs $6 per pound at the grocery while others will cost $20 and $30! What’s the big deal? Is one coffee really that different from another?
Yes–but not just the coffee. There is an entire culture surrounding the growing, tending, harvesting, drying and roasting of coffee in Panama.
When visiting coffee farms in the Chiriqui area of Panama, to the west and north of the country, you can expect to see hills covered with the low-growing trees that bear the lovely red berries. The people who tend those trees and the fruit of those trees are largely the indigenous people of the area, known as the Ngobe-Bugle. In their homes in the Comarca, they are excruciatingly poor. They will travel to the coffee farms to work for pennies per day–but the responsible growers would not dream of paying only pennies or of allowing them to sleep in hovels, crowded into small airless rooms. We can praise God that many of the coffee growers are very responsible and have a social conscience regarding these workers. They pay a competitive wage and provide sanitary living quarters for their workers, who are usually working seasonally.
Some of this social conscience comes from the growers themselves; some comes from pressure from overseas buyers who insist on verifying that the workers are treated humanely and fairly (think, Fair Trade products). In fact, in advance of agreeing on a purchase contract to export coffee, the buyers will often send personnel to the farm to see how the workers are treated. If they find an untenable situation, they will, without hesitation, scotch the deal and walk away. They are very serious about this. In fact, the buyers’ insistence on the quality of all aspects of the coffee production has resulted in some major changes in the coffee industry in Panama so that they can be competitive on the world market.
What is probably equally important to understand when discussing coffee growing in Panama and worldwide is that there are still coffee operations that employ workers at essentially slave wages and deplorable conditions. In addition, their coffee processing results in nearly irreparable damage to the ecosystem where they are located. We witnessed this at one facility right here in Panama. They pollute the streams with the substance that coats the coffee beans, as they use a water “cleaning” system for the beans. This substance results in the
killing of fish and animal life in the streams and they become choked and stagnant with growth. These processors are unwilling to pay their workers more nor to upgrade to more eco-friendly processing means because it adds to their cost. These are the cheaper coffees that you can find on the shelves for $6 per pound–and they sell a lot of it. I’m pretty sure that most people, if they knew of the devastation of ecosystems from that irresponsible processing and the suffering of the workers, would be more than willing to pay another dollar or two for their coffee. And, sorry, if they weren’t, they just shouldn’t buy it at all!
Understand that the conditions I just listed exist with much greater frequency in those countries that are producing those generic coffees. You know where I mean, so I won’t bother to list them here!
We love to work with companies that pursue their businesses with integrity and attention to everyone and everything involved. Whether it be mangoes, avocados, cocoa or coffee, we insist on Impact Investments, where everything and everyone benefits: The
developer, the investors, the workers, the region, the land, the fruit, the trees, the water supplies. With Impact Investing, you fully expect to find that area in much better condition 50 years from today than it is today.
Just as we are your source for Panama Impact Investments in Mango, Cocoa, Avocado, Persian Lime–we are now offering Impact Investment in Coffee in Panama. We offer turnkey investment in high quality, high price coffee farms. Contact us for additional details or send us your questions. One day, you could be drinking that beautiful rich coffee right from your own trees!