The world’s most expensive batch of beans came from a small estate surrounded by forest on the edge of the La Amistad International Park in the far north east of Panama. At the auction just 100 pounds of the precious coffee was available. This was split evenly between the buyers. The beans they had been so determined to buy had been harvested ripe in March and April before being fermented in warm water for several days, then dried in a controlled environment for two months and, finally, meticulously sorted by hand. The successful bidders at the auction bought the beans green and unroasted.
Producing the world’s most valuable coffee is a remarkable achievement for a country which has no obvious ‘cafe culture’. This isn’t Brooklyn, Shoreditch or Milan. You won’t find artisan roasteries on every corner. Panama only produces 0.1% of the world’s supply. Until quite recently our coffee was little-known in the outside world. Even now, if you’re not in Panama, you won’t find our beans on the shelves of your supermarket or even, unless you’re extremely lucky, in many gourmet outlets.