Robert Lamastus founded Elida Estate in the early 1900s. While working on the Panama Canal he fell head over heels for the country, specifically Boquete. The estate is now under the supervision of his grandson Wilford, who has spent his whole life turning Elida into one of the most well-respected farms in the producing world.
During harvest season a very unique weather pattern turns Boquete into one of the most intense and magnified microclimates in the coffee-producing world. They call it “Bajareque” (Bah-Ha-Reh-Kay). Since Boquete is located in the Eastern portion of the Talamanca mountain range (specifically on the Eastern peak of the Baru Volcano), a mist accumulates around the city when a cold front is present along the coast of Florida. During winter, that mist turns from light to strong rains because of the addition of moisture on the Pacific coast side.
The coffee is grown in rich volcanic soils, the temperatures are low, there is a lot of fog and mist during the dry season, and the coffee trees are surrounded by virgin-native cloudy rain forest. The nights get cold here, thereby taking a tree from four and a half to five and a half years to start producing fruit (two or three years longer to produce than average); these low temperatures also extend the ripening time one month longer (thus affecting the development of the bean).
The Bajareque absorbs the whole landscape with an immense fog; the fog allows for stronger and longer maturation of the cherries, which in turn has helped to sustain the quality of coffees from Boquete.
The Catuai grown at Elida Estate, for example, are some of the healthiest trees in Central America. This lot is 100% Catuai, naturally-processed on patios. The attention to detail on drying and constant small lot drying experimentation being undertaken at Elida is why the clarity in the cup is so consistent.
More than half of the Elida Estate rests within the confines of the Volcan Baru National Park, a protected ecological reserve and sanctuary for exotic plants, birds, and mammals (like the tropical tiger). It also home to Mount Baru, one of the most elevated volcanoes in all of Central America.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Panama Elida Estate Natural, from Ipsento Coffee in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Alto Quiel, Boquete, Panama
producer: Robert and Wilford Lamastus
elevation: 1750 meters above sea level
The aroma coming off the Panama Elida Estate Natural is intensely sweet; incredibly fragrant, perfumy even, with plenty of berries, white tea leaves, and night-blooming flower aromatics.
Diving into the first few sips and this coffee is like a big bowl of fresh, ripe strawberries. I’m getting just a hint of blueberry syrup and agave nectar too, but it’s nothing compared to all of the strawberries up front. Underneath all of this is a bed of lemon grass, and it is a very grassy bed. It almost distracts from all of the incredible berries, leaving behind a mild astringency with each sip.
As it cools, the coffee kinda goes off in all directions, as far as profile is concerned: really sweet and juicy fruits like strawberry (still), plum, raspberry, white pear, and honey crisp apple collide with vanilla cream, white sugar, and floral aromatics rise up against the roof of my mouth, while, underneath, astringency-inducing notes of grass, roasted almonds, a mild earthiness, and a sharp lemon acidity spread over my palate.
Light body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
Honestly, I don’t really know how I feel about the Panama Elida Estate Natural, from Ipsento Coffee. It’s one of those rare coffees that left me very conflicted. I wanted to like it more than I did while drinking it, and I wanted to dislike it more than I did after finishing it. I want to try this coffee again in the near future so I can form a more solid opinion of it, but as it stands now, I’m still feeling a little unsure about it.
On the one hand, this is a beautiful natural with stunning clarity, tremendous body, and it’s so incredibly flavorful. On the other hand, it doesn’t have much structure; I mean, this coffee is all over the place.
However, it never strays too far in either direction; either that, or it moves in two opposite directions at the same rate, achieving some sort of dynamic equilibrium.
But that’s the thing that left me so perplexed about this coffee—for a natural (for a Panama) (for a natural Panama), it’s kinda middle of the road.
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