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.
For Mario, what started off as a pet project quickly became a labour of love. Since I first met Mario, we have become good friends. He loves talking about coffee, learning, pushing the envelope and questioning the status quo. I always admire people like Mario, who can amass great amounts of knowledge in a short period of time. Over the past few years, Mario has been improving his processing, under the mentorship of Mauricio Shattah.
This coffee was processed in what Mario calls, the “modified Mauricio Method”. Full disclosure, I don’t know the specific details of the processing, but I know it’s a double fermentation. First, there is a period of anaerobic fermentation in cherry form in controlled conditions. This is followed by a second anaerobic fermentation in mucilage. The coffee is then dried in pristine conditions. One of the strengths of Mil Cumbres is their pre-processing, they pick the 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, carefully and meticulously.
I have been tasting Mario’s coffee for a while now and I see his trajectory – the coffees are better every year. I’m so happy for him, especially since he takes so much pride in his coffees, it makes me happy to see him enjoy his own coffee so much.