The Hartmann family patriarch, Alois St. Hartmann, was born in Czechoslovakia in 1891. In 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, Hartmann emigrated to Pennsylvania in the United States where he changed his name to Luis Hartmann. Hartmann later purchased land in Chiriqui, in Panama and built a house. On that land, Hartmann began growing the first coffee trees on the Hartmann Estate. Direct descendants of Luis Hartmann own and manage the estate today.
The Black Honey process is a drying process where part of the cherry remains on the bean and is covered while drying. The Honey name does not associate with bees or a honey-like flavour profile. Instead, the term ‘honey’ relates to the ‘mucilage’ (sticky substance) left on the coffee bean.
The complexity and difficulty of the black honey process is risky business for coffee farmers. Why? Because the beans are left with pretty much all the mucilage on, they are surrounded by sugar and microorganisms while they are drying which means they need to be laid out in thin layers to avoid mould and quick fermentation.
Black honey coffee takes up to 15 days to dry. During this time, these thin layers need to be agitated, rotated, aerated and raked out regularly in order to control fermentation. This takes a lot of hard work and time. Shade is also important and in Costa Rica they dry the beans in green houses. Using green houses also keeps the random rains away which would also ruin the fermentation process. This process however has the benefit of using little water compared to washed coffees where a large amount of water is used in their processing.
The flavor profile of this coffee that undergo black honey process includes toffee, honey, black tea flavor with medium sweetness. Round body with light acidity. This coffee pairs perfectly with sweet breakfast pastries such as waffles, buttermilk pancakes and French toast. It also partners well with banana bread, coffee cake and danishes.
After harvest, cherry is pulped. Coffee and mucilage is moved to raised drying beds. For black honey, as much of the mucilage is left on the coffee as possible. Raised beds allow for greater airflow during drying and reduce the risk of fermenting or spoiling. Coffee is usually not turned during the first 24 hours of drying but then raked regularly afterwards. On average, drying takes between 1 and 3 weeks.
Coffee in Panama
Though small in coffee production, Panama is a mighty player in coffee quality. In particular, Panama is famous for producing Geisha variety lots that have fetched prices exceeding $800 per pound. Today, its renown as a producer of rare and sought-after varieties positions Panama as a contender for a new kind of ‘coffee-tourism’ that has the potential to change the way we produce, purchase, consume and talk about specialty coffee on a global scale.