Hacienda Mil Cumbres is located in a relatively unknown growing region in Panama: Cordillera. This region gets more rainwater than the rest of Panama’s coffee regions and it’s one of the reasons the coffees that come out of this region are turning heads. Set in the middle of the mountains and a native rain forest - which covers about 70% of the property - the farm has a great variety of flora and fauna. The oft-changing amounts of rain and sun coupled with variable temperatures create great growing conditions.
Natural processed coffees are the reason I fell in love with coffee in the first place. I remember tasting a natural Harrar back in 2005 that completely redefined my expectations of what coffee could be. Since then I have been mostly disappointed and let down by naturals. It wasn’t until recently (in 2018) that we started buying naturals from other producers not named Ratibor Hartmann (we have been buying Hartmann Naturals since 2010). Now, it seems that there is finally real appreciation for the fact that producing great naturals is really, really hard. At Mil Cumbres, their process is a good example of why it’s hard. On day 1, they pick the coffee cherries and bring them back to home base to wash them, float all the low-density cherry, and remove foreign matter (sticks, leaves, etc..) - this is all done by hand.
The next step is where things get interesting. The cherries are placed in hermetic barrels for 48-72 hours to ferment in an anaerobic environment. This is where the big fruit and spice flavours begin to form. After this process, the cherries are moved to raised beds for drying with intermittent sunlight. They stay here for about a week and then move to the completely shaded drying beds for the remaining of the drying. Given the shade and cool conditions at the farm, the coffee takes a total of 30-35 days - ideal for drying naturals properly.
I have been tasting this coffee for a few harvests now and this past year, Mario and his team started to really find a new gear in terms of quality. I’m proud to finally bring it to Calgary! As always, this green coffee was frozen on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.