The recent Best of Panama coffee auction, presented by the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama, shattered previous price records, with one winning 100-pound lot from Hacienda La Esmeralda fetching a whopping $601.00 USD per pound, the highest price ever paid for green coffee.
In total, the 51 lots comprising 5,950 pounds of green coffee sold for $368,711, at a remarkable average price of $61.98 per pound.
The auction follows numerous record-breaking Cup of Excellence auctions held throughout Latin America in recent months, reinforcing the notions that not only has quality improved among progressive farmers, but that there is a healthy and growing market at the very high end of the specialty coffee spectrum.
The vast majority of buyers in both the Best of Panama and the CoE auctions — which are separate programs — hail from Asia. The Specialty Coffee Association of Panama reported that 37 of the winning lots went to buyers in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea, while Australian buyers bought seven of the lots, with the remaining lots going to buyers in the United States (1), Holland (1), France (1), the UK (2) and Saudi Arabia (2).
The auction concluded with single lots being purchased by the U.S., Holland and France, two lots each to UK and Saudi Arabia and seven lots going to Australia. The remaining 37 lots went to Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and S. Korea. The lone U.S. buyer was Boulder, Colo.’s Dragonfly Coffee Roasters, although it should be noted that numerous parties in the U.S. and Europe have holdings in farms represented in the competition.
The top-scoring Hacienda La Esmeralda lot (94.11) is a natural-process Geisha coffee grown on the producer organization’s Cañas Verdes Farm that was purchased by Korea’s Kew Specialty Coffee Co. Since its emergence in Panama in the last decade at the hands of several progressive producers — La Esmeralda among them — the Geisha variety has played a crucial role in elevating the extreme high-end market in Panama.
Other top-scoring Geishas in the competition came from Finca Sophia, which is owned by members of the U.S. companies Equator Coffees & Teas and Boot Coffee, and from Willem Boot’s Finca La Mula. Those lots fetched $254.80 and $165.00 per pound, respectively.
The vast majority of Best of Panama-winning coffees were of the Geisha variety, most of them natural-processed with a handful of Caturras, Catuais and Pacamaras also represented.
Hacienda La Esmeralda’s El Velo farm. Photo by the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama. The $601/lb record-breaking Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee was grown at the organization’s Cañas Verde farm in Boquete.