Tales of Birds and High Altitude Coffee… Finca Lerida’s reputation is as old as the first coffee that Panama exported to Germany back in 1929. The high quality coffee produced inside this exceptional plantation made its international buyers realize that there was more to Panama that just its Canal. This was, and still is, Finca Lerida.
After participating in the design and construction of the Panama Canal locks’ emergency hatches and the gigantic docks in Colon,Toleff Bache Mönniche, a Norwegian engineer and graduate of the Royal College of Dresden, Germany, traveled to the High Lands of Chiriqui in 1911. He was looking for a place with clean, fresh air to rest and recover from his fourth attack of malaria contracted in the hot and humid lands of the Panama Canal. After sailing seven days in a little vapor boat along the Pacific shore and riding a horse uphill for many hours, he arrived in a unique spot in the world: Finca Lerida, nested along the lively skirts of VolcanBaru and the high ridges of the Central Range. Located 10 km uphill from Boquete, this property used to be half grasslands/half tropical forest yearlong.
In 1924, engineer Mönniche finally retired from the Panama Canal and along with his wife Julia moved to Finca Lerida. Here he built his house – completely by hand – in a Norwegian countryside style and built the first Coffee Plantation by gravity in Panama. Aside from this he designed and patented the “sifon”, a device made to separate good beans from the bad. This device is now is used worldwide by many coffee plantations and it is still working in Finca Lerida where Mönniche’s old processing plant still processes coffee of excellent quality. In 1929, Finca Lerida exported to Germany its first shipment of Panamanian coffee. This began Panama’s high reputation as one of best quality exotic coffee producers in Europe.