I must have bored many of you for the past few months because my articles since the beginning of this year have been about surfing after surfing. Sorry, but that's pretty much all I do!
Having said that, it's good for me every now and then to leave all my surf-equipment behind and to do something else in no relation to waves or the ocean.

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Last week I went to a small mountain-town called Boquete where the air was no longer sticky but cool and fresh with a couple of tranquil rivers running through the nearby mountains. Yes, I'm talking about mountains and inactive volcanoes here in Panama. A few of them are even over 3000m high in fact.
Boquete slightly reminded me of Gifu and Nagano, the central highland in Japan, due mostly to the presence of high mountains and the density of all kinds of trees and flowers in and around this town.

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Some of the green in Boquete areas actually consists of coffee trees. And that was my main reason for visiting this small town in Chiriqui province.

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Despite the fact that I often try not to join any tours wherever I go, this time I had to take part of a coffee-plantation tour simply because I couldn't just walk up to a plantation-site by myself, climb over a security fence and get shot instead of getting a shot of nice espresso....
The tour I chose was organized by Cafe Ruiz - one of the most respected and truly Panamanian-owned coffee beans producers.

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My tour-guide was a local Panamanian called Carlos, who was clearly born and bred with coffee here in Boquete. He spoke fluent English and taught me two English phrases that I'd never heard of before; 1) Snow birds 2) Gated communities - both of which are mostly referred to retirees with money from North America buying up many pieces of this beautiful wild land around Boquete. A shame.

I can write tons of things in this article about what I learnt through the tour, but I can't be bothered and I don't wanna bore you again. All I'd like to say is that this tour was awesome and only deepened my knowledge in coffee as well as deepening my addiction to coffee except the bloody mass syrup juice producer - Starbucks, and the capsule waste maker - Nespresso. Hahaha.

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Lastly, I was remembering the days of travelling in South East Asia early last year with Eli, my Colombian girlfriend at that time. She and I had at least one or two cups of coffee on a daily basis wherever we went from Vietnam and Laos and Thailand down to Indonesia. One day, we walked into a little special cafe in Ubud, Bali. It wasn't an ordinary-looking cafe, it was owned and run by a coffee-freak. I mean "coffee-freak" not only because of the excessive amount of caffeine this person was presumably taking every day, but also because of this person's hyper blah-blah-ness in coffee.
When we sat down at the counter, this British owner asked us where we came from: I said "I'm from Japan and she is from Colombia." And the word "Colombia" must have escalated his hyper blah-blah-ness then. He kept on talking and talking about coffee. We listened away and eventually managed to get our orders across; "a regular coffee" for Eli and "a normal espresso" for me. Simple! A couple of minutes later, we were served with what were supposedly the coffees that we had ordered. However, my super weak espresso wasn't in an espresso mug. For some reason it came in a medium-size glass with an Indonesian sweet on the side, which was almost like an imitation of the traditional Japanese tea-ceremony. So was Eli's coffee. We instantly looked at each other, but made no comment apart from saying "Oh, interesting..." because this British caffeine addict was still bragging about all the coffees in his cafe and repeatedly saying to us "Your coffee should be real Goooood."
Back in our hotel room later that night, I asked Eli if she liked her coffee at the cafe. She straight away said "No! Not at all." And neither did I. Then we just laughed so hard at each other afterwards.

So what is real good coffee?

Eli and I completely agreed on this: It doesn't matter where the coffee is from. It doesn't matter how it's nurtured and processed. It doesn't matter what sort of aroma and flavour it has.
The one you really enjoy in that moment is your real good coffee. Full stop!

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