Finca Sophia – Equator Coffee’s Experiment in Quality and Sustainability

Finca Sophia an all-Gesha coffee farm in Panama owned by the founders of Equator Coffee is an experiment in producing high-quality coffees in a sustainable manner, and it’s working

Finca Sophia's sounds cover the steep slopes of the mountains of Panama.
Finca Sophia’s grounds cover the steep slopes of the mountains of Panama. (Photo courtesy of Helen Russell)

In the lush rainforests of Panama, up at the dizzying height of 2,100 meters, a rejuvenated coffee farm is charting a course for a new era of sustainability. Planted only with the legendary Gesha varietal, the farm, one of the highest, if not the highest in Central America, has finally brought its first harvest to market, and it’s spectacular.

Finca Sofia was founded in 2008  and is  owned by Equator Coffee‘s own Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell (you can read our Master Q&A with Helen here from our April + May 2016 issue), along with Willem Boot of Boot Coffees, and Equator’s  former Director of Coffee, David Pohl. Over the past eight years, the owners have taken the farm on an unusual and unique journey as they’ve worked to reimagine what a coffee farm might look and work like.  They say their motto has been quality over quantity, preferring an approach (altitude, tree spacing, pruning, etc.) that promotes quality even as they grow, plant and hone their methods.

Eight long years of work on Finca Sophia brought an amazing quality harvest to fruition this year. (Photos courtesy of Helen Russell.)
Eight long years of work on Finca Sophia brought an amazing quality harvest to fruition this year. (Photos courtesy of Helen Russell.)

From the Equator website: “Knowing this farmland had been over-planted in the past, the owners developed Finca Sophia with sustainability in mind. It’s now planted with hundreds of shade trees, along with thousands of coffee trees, to create a buffer between the Parque Amistad Internacional and the largely unforested agricultural areas surrounding it. Half of the 20 hectares are currently planted, while the rest of the farm is forested or in the process of being planted.”

The Finca Sophia sample box set sold out in pre-sales. You can try samples of Lot 1 at all three Equator stores on February 1.

This year brought the long-awaited first harvest at Finca Sofia, and the  results were amazing! Equator offered a special pre-sale selection of Lots 1 and 3 (which is now sold out). And then Lot 3 won a Good Food Award this month in San Francisco! Talk about an resounding endorsement for the work at Finca Sofia!

Though the special selection is sold out, you haven’t missed out on a chance to taste this exquisite coffee. Here’s the catch, though, to try if for yourself, you’re going to have to get to an Equator Coffee location. You can sample Lot 1 on February 1 at any Equator store by the cup until it runs out. Then you’ll just have to wait until the next harvest to get your hands on some Finca Sofia coffee, and when the chance comes, you should take it!

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