A Family Affair - Finca Deborah, Panama

 

The track up to Finca Deborah is a truly wondrous thing. Before even getting to the Finca itself I was already in awe. The undulating 7 ½ Km of gravel and concrete driven through virgin scrub and forest, has been done in the most unobtrusive and environmentally friendly way but also with great technical skill. Originally there was no way of getting to the land that Jamison and Lesley Savage originally bought and every thing that has gone in and everything that comes out needs to be carried by pickup. There was absolutely nothing here, everything that is here now has been built, nurtured and created by the Savages, the whole family was involved in building the track and they have channeled water from the other side of the mountain. This if nothing else sets Finca Deborah apart.

As you reach the Finca itself it is clear why the immense effort has been worth it. At a height of over 1950 meters it is one of the highest and most isolated coffee farms in the region and the views are utterly breathtaking. Deborah’s buildings are perched on the edge of the mountain with glass on every side to take advantage of the views. Ultra modern and completely solar powered, it boasts a high tech cupping lab, state of the art weather station, small processing mill and climatically controlled storage. Everywhere you look there are examples of the Savages attention to detail.

One of the biggest worries for all Panamanian coffee farms is security of labour and this could be particularly acute in this remote spot but an idea of family is incredibly important to Lesley and Jamison. The Nôbe-Buglé are the primary workforce on the farm and great care is taken to make them feel valued. The Savages have built high quality two story living quarters, pay above average wages, provide medical care and transport and intend to include access to education in the near future. Workers are permitted and encouraged to grow fruit and vegetables on the property -  corn, beans, squash, oranges and papaya and are currently harvesting on the farm and there are healthy looking chickens in a beautifully constructed run. This may all sound standard but is actually unusual and allows the farm to train and retain the skilled workers it needs.

The height of the farm means that it is shrouded in cloud for much of the year but the day I went was bright, with only a light mist and the odd magical rainbow. Lesley and Jamison started planting coffee in just 10 acres, intermingling the coffee with the mature cloud forest trees. Because of the altitude diseases are naturally low and as this is a new farm they are even lower, pretty much eliminating the need for pesticides or herbicides and they only use organic fertilisers. The consequence is that there is an abundance of wildlife, birds and insects. I saw the most amazing black blue butterfly the size of my hand and there are carpets of wild flowers. The plants themselves are incredibly healthy with sparkling new growth. As I was there during harvest many of the trees were also ladened with plum deep red berries which tasted amazing.

At this altitude, temperatures can drop to as low 7’C at night and this, with the slower growth, is thought to be the reason that high grown micro lots has been shown to be so exceptional. Reading about geisha before I came to Panama some people had suggested that perhaps wind was also beneficial but when I mentioned this to Jamison he laughed and showed me a couple of plants growing in more exposed positions…. Geisha clearly don’t like the wind! Here Finca Deborah is also a winner. Unlike other farms I visited, their land undulates being made up of a series of gullies and creases. This and the cover of mature trees gives the ultimate shaded sheltered growing conditions.

Finca Deborah has been visited by many of coffee’s royalty and I felt truly honoured to have been invited. Its even more exiting that although much of their coffee has been reserved for some time, Cast Iron has been given exclusivity on one small microlot….  Yay me !

 

TILLY SPURR

September 04, 2016

A view from Morgan Estate, Panama

Standing half way up the steep sided valley of the Morgan Estate, looking up through the canopy of ancient trees, a thin Bajareque from the Cloud Mountains hitting my face, I felt I had rarely been any where quite so beautiful. This is Panama coffee at its best, growing in the shade of untouched beauty, a carpet of ground growing flowers and bright coloured leaf litter under foot.

 I'd been introduced to Lesley and Jamison Savage by my sister who has a small coffee farm in Boquete and a unique and flourishing honey business with apiaries on some of the top coffee estates. When she had asked “would I like to meet her neighbours?”, I had no idea I would be meeting the much heralded owners of the Finca Deborah, who also farms the hugely popular, high quality Morgan Geisha Estate. Nor as I drank my wine and sat chatting on their terrace, did I realise that in the garden around me was a high tech and well organised coffee nursery and processing plant, but more on that later.

 At the end of the evening Jamison said that he would be going up to Deborah and Morgan in the morning if I fancied ‘tagging along’, needless to say I jumped at the chance. I am pretty new to the coffee business and this is my first proper trip to origin but I am sure that tagging along on a normal work day is a little like visiting any business outside of an open day. They may not have cleaned and repainted before your arrival but you get a far better feel of the place and from the start I decided Morgan is special. Its special because of the location and microclimate in its steep sided isolated valley. Its special because of Jamison’s attention to minute detail. Its special because everywhere you look there is a clear a passion to grow the best coffee in Panama and for me is especially special because its owned by an author, Juan David Morgan.

 

The Morgan Estate is situated at 1700-1780 meters, in a secluded leafy valley with a river running down the middle, waterfalls tipping down the steep sides and rainbows forming everywhere the sun catches the mist. At the bottom by the track a collection of Scandinavian style chalet houses are set amongst immaculate lawns and gardens with paths leading up into the cloud forest behind. Along these paths, planted in the shade of the existing mixed forest, clinging to the sides of the valley are the geisha and wow what a sight. Beautiful glossy leaved healthy bushes dripping with ripe cherries. At the time I visited, in early February the main harvest was just getting started and the pickers were working on the upper slopes. At Morgan like at Deborah cherries are only picked when they are absolutely perfect, only the ones that are picked well are kept, they are only picked up until midday so they can be processed at the optimum time and clean bags are used for every pick. The coffee is predominantly green tip geisha, a few other varietals are grown along with the red tip geisha but trees are tagged and cherries kept in strict lots. The trees are incredibly well looked after and well pruned. Fertilizer is kept to a minimum and very few chemicals are used, consequently the wildlife is amazing. Panama boasts 978 different species of bird most of which are bright blue, red, yellow, green and many could be seen flitting around above us.

 

Morgan produces both washed and natural Geisha. The day I visited we picked up cherries that were to be natural processed and this is done back in Boquete. Lesley and Jamison have built greenhouses and drying racks where this process can be closely monitored, at the ideal temperature and humidity. Timers are set and the beans turned by hand every 30minutes. Surrounding these greenhouses is the nursery, where 100s of baby geishas are growing. Each plant has been initially selected from preselected graded washed beans, germinated in sterile sand and re-potted into larger than usual pots. At every step the research and attention to detail is inspiring.

I was lucky enough to bring back some 2015 Morgan Geisha, with its amazing floral aroma & notes of lime, vanilla, peach and tropical fruits. If I close my eyes its quite easy to be transported back. We are incredibly excited that we will be working with Lesley and Jamison in the future both importing and roasting exceptional microlots and pushing new research into performance and nutrition.

Tilly Spurr

March 2016

March 18, 2016

Authentic American Style Diner Mug

Our Cast Iron Coffee Roasters logo'd Diner Mugs are now available for sale in the Brew Kit section of our web shop.  

These 10oz/280ml mugs are the perfect way to enjoy your coffee!

 

 


 

January 05, 2016

La Marzocco Generation Coffee - London December 12

One of our partners La Marzocco is organising a day of coffee talks, demonstrations and SCAE competitions in London on Saturday 12th December.

Its free for anyone to attend but you must pre register to get your ticket, just click on the image above for registration.  We hope to see you there !

November 19, 2015

Meet the roasters - Coffee Cupping session at TY Soho Tues 17th Nov 6-7pm

Next Tuesday, Cast Iron Coffee Roasters will be in London at Timberyard's latest venture in Soho to do an informal interactive cupping & brewing workshop. Showing how different roast degrees can effect the flavour characteristics of a coffee, everyone is welcome and its free to attend.  Futher details available here on TY's website.

Timberyard Soho provides a new creative hub in the heart of London. In an area known for colourful ingenuity and innovation, this new space welcomes speciality tea and coffee coupled with vibrant workspace. The members’ floor offers a beautiful central brew bar plus 104 seats in 2,000 square feet of open plan workspace. 

November 13, 2015

Kenyan Thunguri AA Now Sold Out

We have currently sold out of our Kenyan Thunguri AA but hope to have this delicious coffee back available later in the year.

July 28, 2015

Our Coffee is Now Available in 'Europe's Best Independent Coffee Shop'

We are delighted that a selection of our coffees are now available on the brew bar at Timberyard London's two coffee shops

  

 

 

Timberyard recently won the award for Best Independent Coffee Shop in Europe 2014 at the Allegra European Coffee Awards in Istanbul last November

 

Timberyard Seven Dials - 7 Upper St Martins Lane, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9DL

Timberyard Old Street - 61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW

June 22, 2015

Caffeine Magazine

We are extremely honoured that Caffeine Magazine has chosen our Thunguri AA Kenyan filter coffee as their coffee of the month.

From blind cuppings of coffees from over 20 leading UK roasters, the five judges unanimously chose our coffee, noting it for being "unanimously loved ..beautifully complex and perfectly balanced".  Caffeine Magazine is the UK's leading coffee magazine and can be bought online and found in the UK's and Europe's leading coffee spots.  Championing the cause for speciality coffee as they discuss the trends and new developments in the industry.  Thank you SO much !

 

May 31, 2015

Colombian Caturra de Altura Currently Sold Out

We have now sold out of our Colombian offering Caturra de Altura from the Granja la Esperanza farm.  

This wonderful coffee has been extremely popular and we hope to obtain further supply when the second harvest becomes available in July. 

May 26, 2015
Tags: colombian

New Guide About The Importance Of Coffee Grinding Added

We have just added a new post in the Coffee 101 section all about coffee grinding and why a basic understanding can help you brew the perfect cup of coffee.  Please click on the link to view.

COFFEE GRINDING, YES ! ITS IMPORTANT 

May 04, 2015

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