Born in Colombia but having spent most of his childhood in Panama, Stefan was unfamiliar with the coffee industry in Panama until meeting his wife’s family in Boquete, where they owned a coffee farm. Stefan fell in love with the region, and 12 years ago jumped at the opportunity to purchase a farm of his own, now known as Hacienda Bajo Mono.
The farm had been abandoned by the previous owner, and required renovation and replanting. On the farm were a diverse range of fruit trees, oaks, and shade trees from around the world, all of which Stefan has preserved. Multiple coffee varieties were already on the farm, with the standouts including Maragogype and a single Orange Bourbon tree. Both the Maragogype and Orange Bourbon are now established plots at Bajo Mono, as well as Yellow Catuai, Pacamara, SL28, Mokka, Gesha, and most recently Pink Bourbon.
When walking the farm with Stefan, his love and affection for the land and coffee he works with is immediately obvious. “Fantastic,” “amazing,” and “incredible” are words Stefan uses often as he points out the different varieties, pauses to adore the sprawling trees, and tastes coffee cherries. His excitement spills over to the processing and cupping of his coffees, which is all done on-site.
In 2020 Stefan began experimenting with anaerobic fermentation and, after consulting a friend of his who owns a brewery, carbonic maceration as well. Through multiple experiments, Stefan has developed a preference for carbonic maceration naturals. On the cupping table they express florals and fresh fruit flavors, with a restrained note of wine in the aftertaste. His processing isn’t heavy-handed, though, and the flavors of each variety are present and expressive in the cup.
At the end of our cupping and reflecting on all of the work that goes into coffee production, Stefan smiles and says, “It’s a lot of fun.”
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