Longtime Marin coffee business bought the highest coffee farm in Central America along with Boot Coffee in 2008.

As Equator Coffees founders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell have worked feverishly to steer their business through the COVID-19 crisis, they’ve also had their heads and hearts far afield – to Finca Sophia, the coffee farm they’ve co-owned with Willem Boot of Boot Coffee, at nearly 7,000 feet of elevation in Central America, since 2008.

The trio got word this month that Finca Sophia has been named the winner of this year’s Panama Cup, with Finca Sophia coffee placing first in the Washed Gesha Category and second in the Natural Gesha Category. Finca Sophia coffee has been no stranger to accolades over the years, as it was recognized as a Good Foods Awards winner in 2016 and again in 2020 and also won the washed Gesha category in the Best of Panama in 2017.

“It’s an immense honor to place a farm of our own amongst Panama’s finest producers,” said Equator CEO Helen Russell.

“Finca Sophia is an experimental farm, as coffee is rarely grown at 2,100 meters in Central America,” Russell continues. “Growing Gesha coffee at this elevation has allowed Equator to push the boundaries, and create exceptional, rare coffees. Our 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.”

Located in the highlands of Panama at an altitude of 2,100 meters, Finca Sophia is the highest coffee farm in Central America. It is planted solely with Gesha beans, an “original variety of coffee that was discovered in the 1930s in the mountains around the Southwestern town of Gesha, Ethiopia,” according to coffee industry news site Perfect Daily Grind.

Pairing this coffee varietal and the extreme altitude yields a one of a kind coffee, according to David Pohl, Equator’s former director of coffee. “We specifically selected Finca Sophia because of its altitude and as being one of the highest farms in Central America,” Pohl says. “It really positions Finca Sophia to produce a coffee that’s singular and that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”