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Going to origin | Hacienda La Esmeralda
We had the pleasure to visit Rachel Peterson and her father, Price Peterson at their farm in Panama. Siv and Samuli have been in Coffee Collective for many years and embarked on the journey together. This is the story of their trip told by Siv.
Samuli and Rachel at the balcony overlooking their land
23.08.2022Siv Maria Møller

A short drive from Boquete you’ll find Hacienda La Esmeralda. A farm owned by the Peterson family for generations. Here they produce amazing coffee from the varieties Geisha and Catuai. We were lucky enough to have Rachel Peterson show us around Boquete and the coffee farm.

Hacienda La Esmeralda as a farm started by producing dairy. Today they still have 1,000 cows and dairy is still produced at a higher volume than coffee. The combination of drying beds and jersey cows in the background was very idyllic and serene. When visiting the farm and Boquete it becomes apparent, that the Peterson family don’t shy away from new projects. 

The Peterson family own more than 1,000 Jersey cattle

Local community

The day after we arrived, Rachel picks us up in the morning. Before we head to the farm, she drives around Boquete to show us some of her family’s local projects. 

The foundation of Rachel's grandmother has contributed to the city with a public library, that for years has made books available for everyone and provided options for courses in for example English. Their newest project is a new park, located between the city of Boquete and the border of the forest.

One of the family's charity projects is a beautiful public park

Boquete has quite the scenic surroundings, mountains and wild nature all around. However, in the city, there aren’t that many public places to enjoy a day off with friends and family or go for a stroll or a run in a greener area.

The idea for the park is to give the locals that option. When we visited, the site was still under some construction, but the locals had already embraced the park.

Moreover, they also have a wild forest area where they are working on preserving and increasing biodiversity. The area is primarily untouched and visits are only allowed for research and school trips. This way, nature is mainly untouched and can grow as organically as possible.

Cupping with a view

The Peterson family often have guests on the farm from all over the world. Similar to many other countries, in the past two years, they have experienced multiple lockdowns, and haven’t been able to host any at the farm for long periods of time. With extra time on their hands, they used the lockdown time to build a new cupping room, on top of their current office space. 

Their new cupping facilities are beautifully located

The new cupping room is beautiful and with panoramic windows, it made the cupping experience even more special.

All their coffees weren't ready for cupping yet, so we tasted the ones that were. Some were with added yeast in the fermentation, some naturals and a few anaerobic. Many of the ones with added yeast still resemble the washed ones we love. The clarity and brightness shine through. It was a delight to taste flowers and fruits while gazing over the canopy of trees.

A new initiative | The Supplier Code of Conduct 

For the last year and a half, we have worked on creating a Supplier Code of Conduct. Together with our suppliers, we want to set goals and work together towards more environmental and social production and product.

Rachel showing us their dry mill where the parchment coffee gets ready for export

It is been a challenge to make sure, that the code of conduct aligns with our mission and values, and that we don’t just put demands on the suppliers, especially with our suppliers in the Global South. Nothing is purely black and white, our reality is not necessarily their reality, and we shouldn’t project rules and standards from the Global North rules onto countries still influenced by colonial history.

We want the supplier code of conduct to be open to the nuances of different cultures and locations and the goals will vary depending on the producers and their individual situations. 

A part of the Supplier Code of Conduct is a formal sit-down with the relevant stakeholders. In our conversation with Rachel Peterson, she brought up nuances and was the root for reflections on different subjects.

It also brought up topics that we had never discussed with Rachel before, despite our long relationship (more than 12 years). Moreover, the Peterson family’s passion for coffee and the local community became very apparent during the conversation.

It was amazing to be in Panama and at Hacienda La Esmeralda. If you wish to see more photos from our trip, check out our latest photo album here. 

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