The farm Finca Lerida Coffee Estate
Finca Lerida is a farm with a rich and unique history. Its founder, Tollef B. Monniche, came to Panama from Norway in 1907 to work as an engineer on the Panama Canal. Tollef retired in 1924, and bought a small farm in Boquete, Panama with his wife - the property was called "Lerida" after the city in Spain. He built a house on the property and went to work planting coffee trees as well as fruits and vegetables. He built a dam on the farm, to provide water to the coffee processing plant there, and also developed and patented a device, called the "Sifon" to separate ripe cherries from unripe ones. This device is still in use today, not only at Finca Lerida but also on coffee farms worldwide.
Today, Finca Lerida is run by the Chiari family, who coordinate coffee growing with surrounding rainforest preservation. It also houses an eco-tourism hotel, where patrons can take tours of the farmland and enjoy the ambiance of the rainforest. The farm sits at an altitude of 1600 – 2000m above sea level and grows Caturra, Catuai, and Geisha varietals, which are processed several ways.
Fermentation ASD (Anaerobic Slow Dry)
ASD stands for Anaerobic Slow Dry, wherein the coffee is placed into fermentation tanks for several days with the pulp, and then placed onto drying beds with a thick layer for a total time of five weeks. This is an emergent process gaining rapid popularity due to the incredible and unique flavors it can produce from the process known as anaerobic fermentation.
Anaerobic is a process that farmers used to describe a sealed environment. Typically, the coffee is pulped as usual and then the parchment with mucilage is placed in an airtight tank, often stainless steel, with a valve to allow for off-gassing. This style of fermentation may extend the traditional timeframe of 12-36 hours by hours or even days in some cases up to 120-hour fermentation in sealed tanks. The types of microbes able to survive and actively participate in fermentation is limited by the lack of oxygen in the air and is thought to substantially alter the end flavor profile.
The parents of this variety are Mundo Novo and Caturra, belonging to Bourbon-Typica genetic group.
A cross between highly productive Mundo Novo and compact Caturra, made by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Campinas, Brazil. The plant is highly productive compared to Bourbon, in part because of its small size, which allows plants to be closely spaced; it can be planted at nearly double the density.
The cultivar was created in 1949 from a crossing of yellow Caturra and Mundo Novo, and initially called H-2077.
The variety was released in Brazil in 1972 after pedigree selection (selection of individual plants through successive generations) and is in wide cultivation there. The Catuaí lines transferred to Central America seem to be less productive, studies in Honduras and Costa Rica found no significant differences in productivity have been observed between Caturra and Catuaí.
It was first introduced in Honduras in 1979, where it was tested by Instituto Hondureño del Café (IHCAFÉ). It was released commercially in 1983 after IHCAFÉ selected two lines for planting. In Honduras today, Catuai accounts for nearly half of the Arabica coffee in cultivation. Researchers at IHCAFÉ are actively pursuing breeding with Catuai, including creating hybrid crosses between Catuai and Timor Hybrid lines.
It is also economically important in Costa Rica, where a yellow-fruiting Catuai was introduced in 1985, whose descendants have spread widely through the country. It was introduced into Guatemala in 1970, currently, about 20% of the country’s production is Catuai. It has a negligible presence in other Central American countries.