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My previous trip to Boquete I did a coffee tour and liked it so much I wanted to try another. As Boquete coffee is world renowned and is also host to plenty of ex-pats/tourists, there are many tours to chose from. The Hostel I was staying at, Mamallenas, recommended the tour of Finca Milagraso and when I read the wonderful story of the farm I knew it was going to be good. The owner, Senor Tito Vargas started from nothing and through his ingenuity, determination and love of coffee is now producing some of the best coffee in the world.
Milagraso means miracle and Senor Tito feels that there were several miracles that got him to where he is today. The first miracle was acquiring his five hectare farm, which has proven to be ideal for coffee production. After planting the coffee and carefully tending the trees for a few years he started to produce good coffee. For quality control and to keep costs down, he wanted to process it himself rather than have another larger farm process it. He went to the bank to get a loan for the processing equipment but they laughed at him saying his small farm could never earn enough to pay off a loan. But Senor Tito is very resourceful and ingenious. He proceeded to build most of his own processing equipment using a lot of salvaged parts from an old jeep and washing machine, another miracle. Now he had the good coffee and could process it but how to market it? When his friends asked him who he would sell his coffee to he would jokingly reply “the Japanese”. A few years ago a Japanese couple asked if they could buy some coffee after a tour of his farm. He thought OK, they want a pound or two like most tourists. They wanted his entire production!! Another miracle! Senor Tito has never looked back.
The tour is guided by a young, enthusiastic local named Jason who speaks excellent English. He led us through the farm explaining the many diverse elements that help make the farm so successful. There are chickens roaming around the farm which provide breakfast, lunch and valuable fertilizer for the coffee. A lovely creek flows through the property providing the large quantity of water needed to process the coffee beans. Fruit trees provide snacks for workers as well as for birds and animals which might otherwise eat the coffee cherries. A highlight of the tour is seeing the tall, world famous Geisha coffee trees. Geisha coffee is ranked at or near the top of the world for quality/price, selling for upwards of $100 per pound!! After touring the farm we got to see the innovative processing equipment and taste some coffee. For me this coffee really was a miracle. It was so vibrant on the tongue, with a distinct fruitiness to it. There was a long, smooth finish with absolutely no bitterness. Senor Tito’s coffee has been consistently in the top 10 coffees of the Panama in their annual competition and it is the best coffee I ever had. And this wasn’t even his Geisha coffee (which all gets shipped to Asia) but a blend of seven other beans he grows. We finished up by roasting some green coffee beans in his homemade roaster and learned about light(my favourite), medium and dark roast. I highly recommend this tour.