This year saw the 23rd annual Best of Panama competition, showcasing the greatest coffees the nation has to offer. IKAWA visited Panama in May to support the event, cup some incredible coffees, and prepared some official sample roast profiles for the auction samples. To round things off, we hosted a cupping of some of the top lots at our headquarters in London with friends from London’s coffee community.
The annual coffee competition is organised by the Speciality Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP) in which producers across the nation submit their best coffees for a period of intense judging to score and ultimately assess for each category, the best coffees of Panama.
Over four days, international judges cup and evaluate each lot to ultimately decide which will be auctioned off. The auction is unique in the prices the coffees command. For the second year in a row, Elida Estates produced another impressive natural geisha, this time scoring a record breaking 95.25 and achieving $1029/lb this year at auction.
Coffee from these auctions will find its way to some of the highest end coffee shops across Asia and North America (either green or roasted!) including award winning Saza Coffee. Last year some were roasted for consumers on IKAWA roasters as a roast-and-serve concept.
During this year’s SCAP we ran a couple of hands-on workshops. This provided IKAWA with a fantastic opportunity to further our understanding of how our Sample Roaster is used at farm level, and also support customers on the ground with getting the most out of their Sample Roaster. The sessions were facilitated by Tony Ruiz who’s based in our London office, but was born and raised in Panama’s coffee growing region.
The first of these workshops welcomed SCAP members, existing IKAWA users from Panama and around the world, discussing how integral the sample evaluation is at every level of the coffee supply chain. It was a fantastic opportunity for Tony to provide more in-depth insights for delegates at the event, particularly focussing on IKAWA best practise and roast profile creation and adjustment. It was also a great opportunity to hear customers’ feedback, and gain a better understanding of how producers and exporters are currently utilising our Sample Roaster.
During this time Tony also took the opportunity to make local site visits in the wider coffee producing community. He attended a number of farms and QC labs, offering a fantastic opportunity to connect with IKAWA customers and learn how we can better serve them.
After the competition, ahead of the auction, bidders requested sample sets for the BOP coffees containing 100g of each of the lots that made it to the final round.
We were lucky to have a sneak preview of the set, and spent some time finding the best IKAWA roast profiles for the different coffees. As time was limited, we did what a lot of IKAWA customers tend to do – and went to some of our favourites profiles we’ve used before and tried them with the new coffees. Then commenced the process of cup, adjust, roast and cup again and found a handful of roast profiles that were excellent for the BoP sample lots.
For anyone who’s not used an IKAWA before, the digital aspect allows sharing of roast profiles which are sent to your roaster by bluetooth, and allow you to roast consistently every time. What’s so exciting about the Best of Panama sample sets is that they are being roasted all over the world, so IKAWA users were able to tap into our recommended roast profiles and get a tried and tested sample roast really easily. When you only have 100g of some of the most valuable coffee in the world, roasting on IKAWA allows you to try 2 different roast profiles, to get a complete picture of the coffee, or to arrange several cuppings, by roasting the coffee in 50g batches on different days.
Here are our two favourites we used for the cupping at IKAWA HQ, most notably Alexandru Niculae’s profile we used to roast all of natural and special process coffees including the ‘winning’ Elida Estate Green Tip Natural: