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Four Generations at the Forefront of Panama’s Specialty Coffee Movement

27 February 2017
by Cloe
bean member

Named after the light misty sprinkle of rain found in the valley of Boquete, Bajareque Coffee House, situated in old Panama City is a flagship store dedicated to showcasing the coffee grown on Elida Estate. Like many good coffee partnerships, the Café/Estate are co-owned and operated by father son team Wilford Jnr & Wilford Snr Lamastus.

Originally founded in 1918 by Robert L. Lamastus, The Lamastus Family Coffee Estates, Elida and El Burro sit at an altitude between 1575 – 2500 meters above sea level. Elida traditionally focused on washed coffees, however in more recent years they have taken to experimenting with new processing methods, in particular honey and natural, recently taking out first place in the Best of Panama for Exotic Washed and third place for Best Experimental Coffee.

Best of Panama is an annual competition where growers submit what they think is their best cup and an international panel scores the coffee. The top 16 awarded coffees in each exotic category and the top 8 in each traditional category send samples to potential buyers, the buyers cup them and register to bid in an open auction. The highest bid gets the booty.

The uniqueness of Best of Panama in the specialty coffee world is the Geisha variety on offer with Panama being hailed as ‘the home of Geisha” since it was discovered by Hacienda Esmeralda and the Peterson family 15 years ago. Elida Estate has multiple varieties including Catuai, Typica and Geisha. It is the Geisha in the region that is responsible for the exciting growth of the highest priced quality coffee due to the unique high altitude micro climates situated at the cusp of Volcan Baru.

On top of his work the with Bajareque coffee roasters, Wilford Jnr has just successfully organized the first annual Panama Barista Coffee Championship as part of his endeavor to increase the Café industry and overall quality of baristas in Panama. Taking out first place in the first annual Barista Championship this year was Cesar E. Bermejo who only days after winning opened his first café, Leto – a must-visit if you’re ever in Panama City and looking for a great cup of coffee. Coming in second place was Benito of the UNIDO group – watch this space for an upcoming interview!

One thing is for sure, I’ll be keeping a close eye on what the Lamastus family are working on in the next couple of years. Wilford Snr as president of the Panama coffee association sharing with the world the ‘bucket list’ Geisha coffee combined with his work in incorporating more varieties and processes into the Elida Estate.

As for the future of the Panama cafe scene, it is in good hands with fourth generation Lamastus, Wilford Jnr promoting the National Coffee Championships with a vision to incorporate other categories including Cup Tasters, Brewers Cup and Roaster Championship.


Click here to see Elida Estate’s profile on beanlinked.

PRO TIP: If you find yourself on the Elida estate in Boquete don’t miss out on the high anti-oxidant tamarillo!