Grumpy Mule - Panama
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Graciano Cruz's Los Lajones Estate in the Boquete region of Panama
1750 - 2100 masl
Notes of Peach Iced Tea, Raspberry Cheesecake with a Creamy Body and Stone Fruit Acidity
Graciano Cruz is a full-time specialty coffee farmer living at the foot of Volcan Baru, just few minutes from his main farms - Los Lajones and Emporium. He is also certified Q cupper, MBA graduate, director of many projects, father of two sons, surfer and most importantly a big proponent of high quality coffee processed with the minimum of natural resources.
Los Lajones Estate is located on the slopes of Volcan Baru in the elevation of 1750 – 2400 masl. The total size of the farm is 160 ha, with about 40 ha dedicated to farming. Currently, 35 ha are cultivated with coffee trees, 21 ha are used for production and 14 ha is devoted to young trees between 2-3 years old (mainly Geisha and Pacamara variety). The other varieties used on Los Lajones are Caturra and Catuai.
Before the farm was purchased by Graciano Cruz R. and his son in 1992, it was owned for many years by Alberto Rubio and used mainly for cattle pasture. In the first years after purchase, the lower parts of the property were slowly planted with coffee trees. Recently, the focus shifted to the upper parts, with Geisha variety being planted as high as 2100 masl.
The unique geological characteristics of the property, which is located in-between two lava flows, created a completely different and specific microclimate.
The rainy period is clearly defined, starting in May and lasting up to December. From January until April, the farm is constantly hit by wind currents coming from the Pacific Ocean, which collide with Bajareque (misty rain) arriving each afternoon from the Caribbean. This unique microclimate makes Los Lajones a perfectly dry spot for 5 months during the crop. The average annual rainfall is around 3500 mm of water, distributed into mild showers that take place predominantly from April until August. The rainiest months are usually September and October, averaging 1000 mm per month.
Catuai Amarillo, Yellow Catuai, is a dwarf hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra, crossbred by Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil in 1949. Together with Red Catuai, it is a highly resistant cultivar suitable for growing in high altitudes and windy areas. Both Catuais have very refined and clean acidity, although in the cup they are barely distinguishable. Catuai trees are widely grown around Latin America, especially in areas with strong winds or high annual precipitation since its short stature is tolerant to these natural elements.
One of the crucial aspects of Los Lajones is the zero water usage during coffee processing. All production is processed on-site using Honey and Natural methods and dried on raised African beds.
The Natural method is the oldest and most traditional way to process coffee cherries. First used in Ethiopia, sun drying ripe cherries before hulling and roasting them is a process unchanged for centuries. Similar to honey method, not a single drop of water is used during the whole procedure, thus making it a completely environmentally friendly coffee processing method.
After only ripe cherries are picked, collected and weighted, they are spread on African raised beds. After many experiments, it became clear that sun-drying naturals on African beds is a lot faster, cleaner and less expensive than using traditional concrete patios. The air circulation from bellow the bed creates more homogeneous and smooth drying process, which later results in cleaner and softer cup profile.
Emporium and Los Lajones were the very first farms in Central America, which produce their entire crop using either Natural or Honey processing method.