BOQUETE, Panama, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Panama's Geisha coffee beans have generated a lot of enthusiasm among Asian coffee drinkers with their rich flavor, coffee producer Francisco Jose Serracin Miranda has said.
As one of the many coffee growers in this area, Serracin took Xinhua on a tour of the Don Pepe Estate Coffee plantation in the highlands of Boquete, a region in Panama's western Chiriqui province where an Arabica varietal known as Geisha is cultivated under the shadows of the 3,474-meter-high Baru Volcano, Panama's highest peak.
The varietal is believed to have originated in the Ethiopian village of Gesha, which is famous for its coffee. Over the course of its journey from Africa to Central America, the name was transformed into Geisha.
The volcanic soil, microclimate and farming methods in Boquete have enriched the plant with unique flavor. Boquete is one of only two regions in Panama (the other is Renacimiento) which have been granted denomination of origin status by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013.
Serracin's late father, Francisco Antonio Serracin Colon, better known as "Pachi," brought the first kilo of Geisha seeds to Panama from neighboring Costa Rica in 1963, keeping half for himself and giving the rest away to his friends.
Although the varietal in vogue at the time was Caturra and some growers had claimed the Geisha seeds were only suitable for Costa Rica's highlands, "Pachi" decided to cultivate Geisha in Boquete.
History proved he was right. The seeds adapted to Panama so well that the family's plantation has seen its coffee harvest fetch 800 U.S. dollars a pound at auction.
"My father is considered to be the father of the Geisha (in Panama) and his efforts were well compensated," said Serracin, Panama's former representative to Promecafe, a regional cooperative program for the technological development and modernization of the coffee sector in Central America, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Geisha was even mentioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he listed it among Panama's leading goods in a signed article published prior to his first state visit to the country in December 2018.
It was "a great surprise," said Serracin, proudly adding that Panama's first shipment of Geisha coffee to Asia (Japan) in 2005 came from his plantation.
Panama is home to an estimated 3,700 coffee producers, with an annual output of around 200,000 quintals (about 20 million kilos.)
The coffee industry benefits more than 30,000 families, especially among the Ngabe Bugle indigenous community, whose members traditionally pick coffee during the harvesting season.
In December, Panama launched a coffee route that offers travelers a unique way to explore the country and learn about its coffee production.