You can’t travel far in Boquete, a coffee-growing region in the highlands of western Panama, without hearing about geisha beans, reputed to be the world’s best coffee. Farmers here credit Boquete’s alpine microclimates and rich volcanic soil for the geisha’s singular profile—robust with notes of tangerine and jasmine. Boquete is a 45-minute drive north from David, which is an hour west by plane from Panama City.
Sample geisha beans at the source on Boquete Mountain Safari’s tasting tour. Visit three family-run estates, where owners walk you through the production process from planting to percolating. At the sprawling Finca Lérida plantation, founded in 1922, you can sip several types of coffee. There, Andrès Lopez, who oversees quality control, instructs newcomers on how to evaluate the various varieties for color, aroma, body, and taste. Lopez’s sense of smell is reportedly so refined that he can tell if the beans were transported by a horse or a truck. —Victoria De Silverio
This appeared in the September/October 2010 issue.