Panama Lerida Loma

Panama coffee has two extremes, and there isn't too much in the middle. You have your Geisha coffees at $30-$100 a pound, and they're incredible. You have your fancy estate coffees at $12-$25 a pound, and they're incredible. Then finally you have your affordable Boquette coffees, and they are flat as a pancake -- the only thing I would do with them is add flavoring to them and sell them as flavored coffee.

But finally, I've locked in a great Panama Estate coffee that you can afford, and I can't help but wonder if there was a mistake in the pricing, but for whatever reason, here it is -- the least expensive "fine Panama" coffee I've ever run across. If I told you it was Geisha and handed a mug of it to you, you might believe me. Lerida is less of an estate, and more like a tropical rain forest. There are trails throughout the ecological reserve, and over 500 species of birds live here. Exotic fruits and plants are abundant -- and even more importantly -- respected. The coffee growing in the reserve is seen as a bonus, not the primary focus.

The Panama is a delicate bean so be careful with dropping it at high heat -- you don't want to scorch it. You also don't want to overroast it. Keep it out of the 2nd cracks. Even as you approach 2nd cracks, the bean has lost a lot of what makes it special. You really only want to take it about 30-40 seconds past the 1st cracks...Enough to get rid of any tart citrus taste, but still light enough that you can marvel at the complexity of berry, honey, floral, lively acidity, rich smooth body, no earthiness. Hands down one of the world's finest coffees, and as you sip it, you'll understand this.

Coffeereview rated it twice last year -- they gave one roast a 94, and the other a 91.