LA MILAGROSA "MIXTO"
LA MILAGROSA "MIXTO"
Red Plum, Apricot, Caramel, Almond, Milk Chocolate
Region: District of Boquete, Province of Chiriqui
Producer: Hector "Tito" Vargas
Farm: La Milagrosa
Altitude: 1600 Meters
Cultivars: Typica, Catuai, Caturra
Production Method: Wet Processed
Nestled into the Jaramillo highlands of Boquete, Finca La Milagrosa appreciates an incredible micro-climate and is direct neighbor to one of the famed Hacienda La Esmeralda farms owned by the Peterson family. In addition to traditional cultivars such as Typica, Catuai, and Caturra, Finca La Milagrosa produces Geisha.
Portola Coffee Roasters has a very special relationship with the Tito Vargas. Owner Jeff Duggan, while participating as a judge at the “Best of Panama” coffee competition in 2013, met Tito and toured his farm. What impressed Jeff the most was the passion and perseverance that Tito demonstrated on his farm. Tito purchased his farm, which was a plot of land with only coffee shrubs and no processing facilities or equipment. To make matters worse, he purchased the farm when the coffee market had crashed and producers were losing farms all over the World. Everybody thought he was making a poor decision and couldn’t possibly succeed. With very little capital, Tito could not afford new or even used coffee processing equipment. Instead, he hand built many of the needed tools and equipment out of scrap metal and old car parts. To this day, several of those “machines” are still in use on his farm. He named his farm “La Milagrosa” (The Miracle) as a result of him beating the odds.
For the last two years, Portola has purchased all the coffee produced by Tito at Finca La Milagrosa, which is approximately 120-150 bags (132 lbs./ea) per year. Tito is a great producer, but what excites us most about La Milagrosa is the future potential. His coffee this year was better quality than last year. As a matter of fact, his Mixto lot took 7th Place at the 2015 Best of Panama in the Traditional Washed category. This is an incredible accomplishment. To help Tito get a better understanding of his quality potential, and how to replicate quality from year-to-year, Portola engaged in a special project at Finca La Milagrosa. In February this year, Jeff conducted fermentation experiments on the farm, as well as drying experiments, to help identify measurable “quality” points in the process. Tito is very much a hands on, intuition-based farmer, which is amazing. What we aim to do is allow Tito to use a little science to predict quality through reliable measurements so he hits his mark every time. This initial experiment will be to help Tito find the “mark” that he will be aiming for from year-to-year. We expect nexts year's crop to be measurably better. But with that, I will be paying him more for this coffee so expect an appropriate price increase as quality improves.