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Panama’s Coffee Cup - Cafe Ruiz

Written on April 24th, 2010 by 3 shouts

These past few months, I’ve shared some information about coffees grown in and near Boquete, the coffee growing capital of Panama.

Since I live in Panama, and I enjoy writing about what it’s like to live in Boquete, sharing my experiences relating to coffee and the coffee industry here seems to be a natural.

The very first day I arrived in Boquete, I knew I was in “coffee heaven”. Smelling the aroma of coffee roasting everywhere was invigorating, almost exhilarating. The locals were drinking it on the streets and the general conversation centered around the coffee-growing business in Boquete.

It wasn’t long before I became a bit of a devotee of fine coffee. I buy and taste every brand name I can find, read every book and article I see on the subject, and visit as many coffee growers as possible. Finally, I developed my own way of enjoying the many varieties of Boquete-grown coffees, which I’ve set out below.

Designer Appearance – Beginning with Café Ruiz, one of the oldest and most famous Boquete coffee, I looked at the bag and how it appeared to the consumer. The Ruiz designer gave their bags an honored red, white and blue coat of arms and red ribbon, to denote a traditional look. To me, it looks like a well established brand showing lots of pride.

Varieties Available – Café Ruiz grows Typica, Geisha, Magarope, Caturra varieties, and is now producing coffee in a variety of flavors. Cafe Ruiz sells their coffee in many different roasts, and in whole beans or ground medium or fine.

Label Information – Ruiz boasts their coffee is strictly mountain grown on century old plantations, roasted and ground with the most modern techniques in Boquete. “A whole new coffee experience”, according to the bag. To make a cup of Café Ruiz coffee, they recommend using 1 teaspoon coffee to 6 ounces of water; for stronger coffee, decrease amount of water and for smoother, increase amount of water.

My View
Fragrance out of the bag – medium, fresh sensation, especially when I grind it myself!
Aroma when water hits grounds – filled the kitchen with gusts of coffee essence, intense enough to travel to the bedroom.
Body look – thin with clear edge, I could see the white cup through the coffee, almost translucent.
Acidity sharpness - this is a special bright, snappy taste, full of rich coffee flavor that lingers.
Flavor – “Ah, ha” at the first sip, this is fine coffee, one of the very best you can buy in Boquete.
Memory – I remember this cup, one to share with my best friend. I refer our guests to the Cafe Ruiz Coffee Shop to take a coffee tour of the Cafe Ruiz fincas and processing plants.

Price – $4.48 per pound for whole beans, Tueste Latino roast.

This is a photo of Dr. Maria Ruiz, showing us an especially heavy branch of green coffee beans. They won’t be picked until they turn red, only 2 cherries are ready to pick here. We live near the Cafe Ruiz processing plant, and often smell the wonderful aroma of their coffee roasting, lucky me. I have gotten to know the owners and a few of the employees. They are all proud to work in this amazing industry, and are constantly trying to improve their brand of coffee, their processing techniques and their place among the world coffee markets.

By developing better ways of growing and harvesting the finest coffee available, Cafe Ruiz will remain one of my top favorite coffees. The www.caferuiz.com website carefully explains their complete operations and is full of valuable information about the coffee industry here in Boquete.

Try a steaming cup of Ruiz coffee as soon as you get a chance. The new Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook suggests serving Cafe Ruiz coffee with Coconut Coffee Squares, how decadent!
You’ll love this coffee!
Cora

My New French Press

Written on January 26th, 2010 by 3 shouts

It’s about time I have a real French Press, especially since I’m tasting all the fine coffees grown in Panama. I took a seminar about the many varieties of coffee grown in Boquete and the instructor said that she thought the best way to bring out the subtle tastes of the different varieties of fine coffee is to use a French Press to prepare it.

The hunt was on for me as my only experience with a French Press when it was served to me in a local coffee shop. I liked it then, but I didn’t pursue getting one because I didn’t have the “sophisticated” palate then that I have now. Anyway, I began my search in several stores in Boquete and David and just couldn’t find what I thought was the perfect French Press.

When I came to Florida last week, the hunt became extremely easy with every department store and kitchen shop having several models on hand. The prices ranged from $9.95 to $39.95 for an 8-sup size, which I determined was the size I needed. The best part of my hunt was when I visited a Target store and found the “Original French Press” made by Bodum, Brazil model, 8-cup, absolutely beautiful and only $19.95.

The first thing I did before I opened the box was to look at the directions in an easy-to-follow panel on the side, no other directions were necessary.  The written directions come in 14 different languages and they give way more information than anyone would need.

I laughed at the taglines on the box:

  • Probably the best way to brew coffee
  • The Coffee Lover’s favorite method
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Dishwasher safe

They missed the most important qualities to me:

  • The 3-piece mesh filter allows the aromatic oils and flavors to come through,
  • The special lid prevents spills, and
  • You don’t use filters, therefore being environmentally friendly.

Now, the really most important part is how the coffee tastes when using the French Press. I microwaved 2 cups of water until boiling, measured 2 rounded tablespoons of Cafe Ruiz medium ground coffee into the press, poured in the water, stirred it and put on the top, leaving the plunger up. The 4 minute wait was fun, because I was enjoying the aroma and anticipating the flavor of this fine Boquete coffee.

Then came the ultimate pleasure, the moment when I slowly pushed down the plunger and the clear, rich, flavorful coffee was released into the body of my new pot. What I had anticipated was worth every minute of waiting, a very fine cup of delicious coffee grown and processed in my new hometown, Boquete, Panama.
Love it!
Cora

Three Reasons to Buy a $1,500.00 Espresso Maker

Written on October 10th, 2009 by 4 shouts

PasquiniExpression_2_Group_Espresso_Machine Gaggia TitaniumSome folks think there is absolutely no reason to spend $1,500.00 on a fine expresso coffee machine.  Some folks say they don’t like coffee.

I wonder if those two groups of people might be the same ones who haven’t savored the full body, rich intensity, dark, deep, heavy, creamy experience of sipping a fine, boutique cup of the world’s finest coffee from Boquete, Panama.

The three coffee makes I’m reviewing here are the Pasquini, the Gaggia Titanium, and the Expression 2 Group Espresso Machine.

Once someone has the “coffee” experience, they are coffee lovers forever and they will pay almost any price to get the finest coffee grown anywhere and to make the finest cup of coffee possible.   The enjoyment and satisfaction experienced at the moment the coffee touches your palate is indescribable.  We are talking about spending lots of money to get that pleasure, $1,500.00, for that matter.

Let’s get back to the fact that the kind of expresso coffee maker I’m looking for is expensive and I’m trying to think of 3 good reasons to make such an big investment.

First, I live in Boquete, I grow coffee and I love coffee.  Notice my first reason actually contains 3 reasons, all actually very good reasons, but not good enough to justify an outlay of $1,500.00.  I’ll keep thinking about my first reason, especially when there are so many fine expresso makers for under $150.00.

Next, I need the challenge of learning how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home, you know, like a real barista makes at Starbucks.  The barista performs the incredible job of making the very finest cup of coffee possible and I really want to learn how they do it.  If you want to see just what every barista does during their day on the job, visit  http://www.greenbeanscoffee.com/pdf/GBCC_Barista_Job_Description.pdf.  After carefully reading the responsibilities of a barista, I’m not so sure this reason will hold up.

Lastly, very few private homes have a fine expresso maker and wouldn’t you think “The Boquete Gourmet” should have one?  Please let me know what you think - is it worth $1,500.00 to have such a fine appliance in my gourmet kitchen?

Anne’s “Super-dooper” Pie Crust

Written on October 4th, 2009 by no shouts

Anne's Pie CrustOne of life’s greatest pleasures is the aroma and taste of a big, luscious piece of Mom’s warm, homemade pie, together with a cup of fine robust coffee from Boquete.  During our busy days, why don’t we bake more pies? Maybe it’s because the crust seems so difficult to make. Maybe we think it will turn out tough or soggy, or we think it won’t be able to roll out easily.

For me, it was all of the above and it just took too much time - until David’s sister Anne brought forth her “easy as pie”, “never-fail”, “super-dooper” pie crust recipe that includes an egg and vinegar, yes vinegar! Here it is:
Wisk 4 cups flour, 1T sugar and 2t salt in a large bowl.
Add 1 3/4 cup vegetable shortening with a fork
Beat 1 T vinegar, 1 large egg and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl.
Combine with a fork and divide into 4 portions, shape each portion into a round patty, wrap separately in ClingWrap and freeze the patties.

The fun part of making a pie is putting it all together and with Anne’s recipe it actually becomes a pleasure. First, I take out a patty from my freezer and while it’s thawing, I decide what kind of pie to make by visiting my favorite foodie sites or researching my specialty cookbooks. A trick I learned from Rachel Ray is to always have ingredients on hand to make my favorite dishes, so I have lots of pie filling possibilities in my pantry.

Any time you feel like making one of Mom’s tasty homemade pies, defrost a patty, roll it out between two pieces of waxed paper, transfer the crust to a pie plate, fill it up with your favorite pie filling and bake. Pecan, pumpkin and spinach quiche are my most frequent choices.

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