Panama Guyami Indian Robusta Rustico
Panama Guyami Indian Robusta Rustico
Panama Robusta??? Yes, and the story behind this coffee is quite remarkable. Basically, it is grown in extremely remote areas by the Guyami indian group, and the way it gets to the coffee mill is amazing. The preparation of this coffee is quite good, since it is delivered to one of the best mills in Panama for final sorting. But to appreciate this lot, you need to hear the history, and the crazy journey it takes ...The robusta plants came to the Atlantic side of Panama, to the region of Bocas del Toro, as an experiment done by the United Fruit Company /Chiquita Banana during the early years of the twenty century. Bananas proliferated in the easement land beside railroad lines granted to these big companies, and what better way to capitalize on the land, and on any empty freight, than grow banana for export to the US. And why not try lower-grown Robusta coffee as well? The Robusta spread along the coast of Bocas del Toro by the native pickers for the Banana Company: They were familiar with coffee since they were harvesting some in the mountains of Boquete. They took along some beans to roast and drink at their houses in the coast and also started some trees for themselves. In this way, significant amounts of coffee began to be cultivated in small backyard orchards together with cacao trees. The coffee is grown Organically (certified for Europe only at this time). The processing used by the Guyami is like no other ...Robusta is so hard to pulp off the skins that the indians are submerging the bags of picked cherry in a creek for one day to soften the exterior. After they remove the skin, they ferment for 12 hours to loosen the mucilage, rinse the coffee, then wash it again in the river, and dry the parchment on canvas. When they accumulate about 200 pounds of dried parchment (= about 120 Lbs of finished coffee), they paddle it downriver in canoes to the coast on canoes to the Beach of the Wales. Bags are collected onto bigger boat and sail to the port on the Bay of Almirante. From there the coffee travels by public bus (!) to David, and then 2 hours to Boquete where it is dry-milled. What a journey! Our friend Plinio who initiated the project with the Guyami emailed me that "We will find more information for you if the Indians contact us." We realize most small roasteries don't need a lot of robusta coffee (or any, for that matter), but this is a chance to get a small amount of a rare robusta that cups well, for experimentation. And the story behind the lot is so unusual!This coffee is part of our Farm Gate pricing program.
Besides the insane story of how this coffee is picked and processed, it is a unique example of coffea canefora that can actually be brewed and consumed without gagging! Yes, this robusta coffee can be brewed as filter coffee or a French Press (ideal), and is an interesting diversion for people who like super-potent coffees such as Sumatras; aggressive, low-toned types roasted to Full City or darker. It does quite well with a bit of (gasp) half and half, and also has added crema and body to espresso tests I performed, up to around 15% of a blend. Espresso is the main intent, the real reason we offer this coffee. We find that lower percentages are ideal, even for espresso blends that are truly on the rustic side. We have occasionally gone as high as 25% when blended with natural Brazil coffees, DP Ethiopias or wet-hulled Sumatra Aceh coffees.
Chris Schooley adds: There was an extremely sweet scent to this coffee as I roasted it, with almost a dandelion floral note that really intrigued me. The cup has a sweetness that insinuates itself throughout as a graham/dark molasses and in the finish more of a fire roasted marshmallow (even at a fairly light roast). The predominant characteristics I got were a cedar-y woodsiness with worked leather and a mushroom earthiness, but still that sweetness everywhere. Very rustic, an oral history.