From reading some of the threads here, I’m sure there are people that could offer some good advice and perspective on this idea.
I’m not sure how unique my “coffee situation” is, but it’s certainly one that (to me) seems to have some potential.
My wife grew up near Boquete, Panama, and her family still lives all around the area. This area seems to be a little “Napa Valley” for coffee production in Panama.
Some of her close relatives own several small plots of land in the mountain area and grow a variety of crops there, including some coffee (not in commercial quantities, but just for personal use). Her father is a retired foreman of a banana plantation and now spends his time trying to find things to do, especially in the garden. He’s a very intelligent man & was successful in agriculture and managing a major farm, but isn’t familiar with growing coffee (beyond what his family has done in their home gardens).
My wife & I have always intended to purchase some property in the mountain areas and build a vacation home. The other day, we were discussing the possibility of getting enough land to operate a “hobby farm”, which would also thrill her father because he’d have something to do. Well, the topic of what to grow came up, and bananas and pineapple seem to perishable of a crop (and difficult to do on a small scale). We both like the idea of coffee. It seems like an area where a quality micro-grow would be feasible.
Because we both still live & work in the U.S., we also like the idea of being able to import our own crops (in very small quantities, i.e. a few pounds) for our personal use, and also had the idea of eventually growing this a little larger and distributing our product to a few specialty coffee shops in the U.S., or even starting one of our own (which our daughter might be interested in running when she gets out of college). Of course, that’s all far-reaching dreams and ideas, but financially possible for us. We’re several years away from retiring, but it would be nice to start something now so that it’s a little more established when we are able to start spending extended vacations down there. I know that coffee plants, just like grapes, take a few years to bear fruit.
Right now, we have access to land that is suitable for growing, and have started looking for more that would be appropriate (altitude, soil, shade, water, access to utilities, etc.) for (1) building our winter home, (2) starting our hobby farm, (3) wouldn’t be landlocked for future expansion, if we decided. We also have an experienced ag foreman who will work for free, and access to local laborers when we need them.
To top it off, I’ve spend 18 years working for the U.S. border services, and although I’m not in the agricultural inspections or import areas, I have many friends and co-worker contacts who are. It will not be difficult for me to learn how to import.
If anyone has done anything similar, in whole or part, I’d love to hear of your experiences and suggestions.