Panama’s Finca Hortigal, or Hortigal Estate, has been family owned since 1920 and today is completely owned and operated by women. It rises 1,400–1,600 meters above sea level, in the highlands of the Boquete region and grows 100 percent Typica cherries.
On their 34.5-hectare estate, Eira Maria Suarez and her daughters apply fertilizer with “precision technology” to maximize yields while minimizing production costs and waste. And at the end of each harvest day, coffee cherries are weighed and sent to a nearby beneficio (processing mill) on the road between Boquete and the City of David.
At the mill, the cherries are washed and sun-dried on patios before being transferred to drying machines, to ensure consistency. The mill carefully follows the processing protocols instructed by Dona Eira Maria; after processing, the coffee is stored in the warehouse to rest until its “attributes and distinctive characteristics are developed,” say the Suarez women.
The beneficio’s warehouse is built with Ternium, which helps to regulate the humidity and temperature inside the building.
Hortigal Estate enjoys views of the Volcan Baru and Horqueta (Hortigal) Mountain — the two highest points in Panama — and benefits from rich, volcanic soil, native shade trees, diverse bird populations and unique microclimates. These have allowed the estate’s coffee trees to grow between 10 and 12 feet tall, with dark green, almost blue-ish, leaves.
The Suarezes say that they maintain strict farming and maintenance guidelines each season, in order to guarantee consistency and an optimized production. “The farm,” they add, “is a legacy we hold dear and aspire to build upon each day.”
Cupping notes: Brown sugar, citrus, dark chocolate and graham cracker; winey acidity, full, creamy body. (7/31/18)