PC 6.05 Interview with Rachel Peterson
Rachel Peterson and her family operate the world famous Hacienda La Esmeralda in Boquete, Panama. It was in 2004 at the Peterson’s Jaramillo Farm that the incredible rediscovery of Panamanian Geisha occurred. The geisha variety from Hacienda La Esmeralda first competed and won in the Best of Panama in 2004, and continued to win for many years to come. The Petersons have led the way in promoting direct trade and hold their own online auctions each year where what many consider the world’s most delicious coffee is sold. Barista Hustle: In the beginnings of the specialty coffee movement in the early 2000s, we sensed that drying machines had a bad reputation; baristas and micro roasters seemed to associate the use of this technology with huge scale production of commodity coffees. But since farms like Esmeralda started achieving such spectacular results with the use of drying machines, people’s attitudes seemed to have changed. Did you ever experience any negative reactions from customers about the use of Guardiolas at the farm and have you noticed a change in people’s attitudes? Rachel Peterson: In terms of the rotating dryers or Guardiolas, there was an original pushback, but the consistency in drying achieved by a Guardiola has no parallel. If it rains, if it’s overcast, if it’s too sunny … it still dries slowly and steadily to the humidity percentage desired. When bean temperatures exceed these limits for several hours, coffee beans can crystallise at their surface. The crystallised surface prevents water from the centre of the bean from escaping, and therefore reaching safe overall moisture content below 12% becomes impossible. Furthermore, a crystallised surface can cause beans to crack during dry milling (e.g., hulling) and storage. A coffee’s bleached, blue-grey appearance indicates that it was dried at too high a temperature.