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The Garden of Eden of Coffee

08 February 2017

It’s late in the afternoon in Volcan, Panama. The beanlinked film crew are hustling around the cabin at Finca Santa Teresa looking for sticks and logs amongst the coffee trees to fuel our nightly fire. During our search and continuous coffee chatter, a coffee dream blossomed.  “How good would it be to cup 30 different coffee varieties that grew in the same micro climate.” As the team marvels the idea and the rareness of its existence, co-owner Toby Smith replies “I think we should visit Gonzalo Solis.”

A two-hour drive later, our wish was granted with a visit to Finca Diversa, located only a few kilometres across the Panamanian border in the small region of Biolley, Costa Rica. A lush and tropical environment with rainforests, toucans, tropical fruits all sustained by consistent weather conditions, lush soil and altitudes between 1200 and 1500 and unbelievable views!

Meeting Gonzalo, the first thing you notice is his larger than life personality. He is extremely well spoken, enjoys cracking a joke and loves nothing more than sharing ‘a coffee story.’ Something we had the privilege of hearing many of.

Our visit to Finca Diversa started with a brief pit stop at Gonzalo’s wife’s ice cream shop. There was an amazing selection of homemade ice creams, all made from carefully selected fruits native to the Biolly region. This gave us a great understanding of the care and love people had for produce in this region and we all knew that this would be reflected in Gonzalo’s coffee.

The tour then began at Finca Diversa. In a room full of coffee memorabilia, Gonzalo began describing the history of coffee species and varieties. He took us on a merchant’s journey from Africa all the way to Costa Rica and helped us develop a true understanding of what coffee varieties are, and how they came to be. This story will be aired in the beanlinked documentary, coming soon.

Gonzalo had been collecting varieties for over 15 years, and wait for it… he currently has… 600 varieties growing on his farm which is most likely the largest private collection of coffee varieties in the world.

Mia who’s 5’8, standing next to an extremely tall coffee species, Liberica. Photograph taken by Ash Ponders

We were kids in a candy store! There where 4 different strains of the Moka variety, 3 different coloured Maragopye’s, the mother of all coffee.. Eugenoides which is an ancient type of Typica, a Monte Cristo which has been near impossible to find since Caturra was introduced to Central America, and the list goes on and on.

Please take a look at Finca Diversa on beanlinked or his website.. and for those who are lucky enough to visit Gonzalo, I can’t wait to meet and share stories.