Project Panama: A New Specialty Coffee Region in Barreta Cocle.

Alvaro Gonzalez and the coffee producers of Barreta, Coclé have encountered endless obstacles for the past 12 years. They’ve worked with passion and determination, waiting for their time to come. Finally, they can make their coffee available to the world.

Damian Reed (@everythingcoffeefun) is a Canadian expat who arrived in Panama in the 1980’s as a missionary. During his travels around Panama, he found himself in the coffee regions of Barreta, Coclé. While he was delighted by the coffee available there, he was appauled by the poverty in the community and how tiny farmers were exploited by larger coffee companies.

The farmers worked their farms to sell arabica beans for as low as 50 cents/lb, barely meeting the cost of production leaving little or nothing left to take home to their families. Their farms were tiny: 1-3 hectares. So he spearheaded a project in 2008 to help these micro-producers. He formed a co-op with a processing station.

In 2012, the opening year of the co-op, the harvest looked promising with a good crop. But then Roya (coffee leaf-rust disease) came along and wiped out 90% of farms. Most farmers lost interest and gave up. And the co-op became dysfunctional. 

But Damian was determined and didn’t give up. He kept pluggin away, tweaking and making improvements. Fast forward to 2020. We now have a new specialty coffee region that has been opened up to the world. This is mostly due to Damian’s refusal to give up. We hope this is the start of something special for all of Baretta’s coffee producers and their families who have supported them to get to this point.

To celebrate this milestone for the entire community of Barreta, and to carry on the spirit of this monumental coffee, we decided to give this coffee the special treatment it deserves. We personally oversaw the final stages of this coffee’s processing at origin.

Since this was the first time that coffee from Barreta, Coclé was being exported, there were no export facilities available in the province. We had to tansport the coffee domestically to Volcán in Chiriqui province, where we collaborated with the awesome Baru Black Mountain team in Volcán, Panama: @quielitobat @baristagallardo @agirlfrom96 @arielbatista197 @barublack_farm @blackmountainpanama.

The Baru Black Mountain folks in Volcán helped us with the final mile to get the coffee exported from Panama. Here we sorted the coffee beans, roasted samples, did some cupping and finally packaged the coffee in burlap coffee sacks.

This was the last step before the coffee could be exported.

We took direct trade to another level by importing it ourselves in our suitcases!

Here is the transparency report for this single origin coffee, purchased via direct trade at a fair price (3x the price of commodity coffee). It is a super-micro lot. We purchased the entire lot 

In order to really give this coffee the treatment it deserves, we collaborated with World Coffee Champ @karthithebarista to roast these coffees. He’s a master coffee technician, blending art and science to roast coffee beans to their ultimate flavour profile. He’s basically a coffee magician.

We The Origin - Roasting by Karthik
Abbas Alidina
Abbas Alidina is the founder at WE THE ORIGIN.

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