One of our biggest goals at Sagebrush Coffee is to showcase the work of our producers. We love building and growing direct relationships with the people that do the work of planting, growing, harvesting, and processing the coffee we love to sell. We get even more excited when we can share more personal details directly from the farm. Get to know the Altieri family, their farm, and a little about their passion for coffee. They were founded by Eugene Altieri, an Italian-American living in Panama, where prize-winning coffee is grown in the region of Boquete. The Altieri Farm has been producing coffee for 15 years with a mission to produce excellent quality specialty coffee. They love to provide personalized service and are committed to developing community among workers and their families. They take an active role in the education and development of the worker's families. They are not just committed to coffee, but they are committed to people.
Below is our Q&A with the current owner of Altieri Specialty Coffee...
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What would people that don't know you be interested in?
We are a family-owned business, second generation, with 15 years in the coffee growing enterprise. About two years ago, my siblings and I got involved in the business to help our dad, having each of us our own careers, and we just fell in love with coffee.
2. How did you get into the coffee business?
My father, Eugene Altieri, bought his first farm Mimas States in Callejon Seco, Boquete, 15 years ago and started planting Geisha coffee. Without having any knowledge about the business, he started winning prizes in the Best of Panama Competition through the years, creating a well-established name from the brand.
3. What do you love about being involved in the production of coffee?
I have been involved in sales my whole life so, when I got involved in Altieri Specialty Coffee, we decided that I should be involved in International Sales. I just love it, because I have had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people from all over. The coffee world is fascinating and through our coffee and the coffee of other wonderful farms, I believe that we are also helping to place Panama as the number one country of Specialty Coffee in the world. It is just amazing to see how every year the world price record per pound is getting surpassed, and it all happens in this small country.
4. If you could change one thing about this industry, what would it be?
One thing that I can mention that I believe needs attention is the government support to farmers in exporting our goods. Most of the progress achieved in putting Panama on the map as a world leader in coffee has been an effort of the SCAP (Specialty Coffee Association of Panama), which is private, and the members are farmers owners. The government's resources have been very limited and the job of SCAP ́s members have been monumental.
5. Share something with the people that drink your coffee that you'd want them to know about this amazing drink.
I want people who drink our coffee to know it was produced with great passion. From the farm's workers, pickers, coffee mill staff, to the sale team, we are all committed to deliver the best quality coffee and service to our clients because we simply love what we do, and we believe in our products.
6. How has COVID had an impact on your business?
When COVID 19 started we had plans to attend several coffee fairs in Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, and they were all canceled. Still, we have not been able to travel to conventions and this is the best venue to create new business opportunities. However, we have been very lucky with our clients that have kept buying coffee still under these difficult circumstances. Also, we have been very fortunate to have acquired new customers using internet and social media for the initial contact and then we send samples. After tasting almost all the prospects have bought and now are happy clients.
7. What do you think the next 5 years will bring to your part of this industry?
We are very happy and proud to have grown this last two years despite of Covid. One of our achievements has been the construction of our new coffee mill and coffee room at Pipim ́s Estates. So besides planning to keep improving the quality of the product, and experimenting with new processes, we want to introduce "experiences" at the farm. We will be incorporating cupping seminars, coffee tours and coffee tasting for tourists and guests in the next years.
We believe that these more rounded experiences will bring a lot of benefits to the industry specially in educating palettes and understanding what goes behind a specialty cup of coffee.