The coffee culture in Panama City has grown exponentially since I moved here in 2011. Back then, there were maybe two places in the whole city that specialized in producing a good cup of joe. Now, it’s easy to find a good coffee shop in nearly every neighborhood.
On a worldwide level, Panama is not a country that is known as a major coffee growing region. Colombia or Brazil are usually the first to come to mind. However, the coffee produced in Panama is something special. The majority of it is grown in the Boquete region, which is the highlands area of the country. The spring-like climate and mountainous terrain are perfect for growing high-quality coffee beans.
Panama has especially become famous for its Geisha coffee, which is some of the most expensive in the world. A pound of these magic beans can set you back $160. There’s a coffee shop in Brooklyn just started selling this stuff at a whopping $18 a cup. What is so special about Geisha coffee? You have to try it to find out. It’s smooth, fruity, almost tea-like, and will taste unlike any coffee you have tried before. Not everyone who tries it has an orgasm, but it’s something unique to have while you are in Panama and you can find it in most specialty coffee shops here for $6 – $9 a cup.
However, there is also a lot of bad coffee sold in Panama as well. If you buy coffee from a street vendor, drink whatever your hotel is serving in the morning, or visit a Starbucks, please do not judge your coffee experience in Panama based on this.
For the good stuff, you can visit one of the growing numbers of local third-wave coffee shops. A third-wave coffee shop is the latest movement of where coffee is heading, and these places strive to make coffee an artisanal experience rather than serving pots of black coffee. Basically, run by hipsters with tattoos. When ordering a coffee at one of these places, I recommend requesting a pour-over style of black coffee. Then, before immediately pouring creme and sugar in it, take a sip first. Many people find that the coffee is so good on its own that nothing needs to be added.
Mentiritas Blancas (@mentiritasblancas) is a coffee shop situated in the heart of Panama City’s funky Via Argentina neighborhood. As you enter the place, you are welcomed by a cozy, intimate setting that instantly makes you feel at home. Along one wall is a row of bar stools where you may find digital nomads working away online, and a couch at the end provides a comfortable setting to catch up with friends. The aroma of coffee and freshly baked pastries fills the air. I think what sets this coffee shop apart from the rest is the customer experience they provide. The owners and baristas are super knowledgeable and take the time to help you choose the right cup of coffee for you.
Address: Via Argentina, View on Google Maps
Café Lola (@micafelola) is run by Lola, the most passionate, energetic, and hardworking coffee lover you’ll find. The café is set within the beautiful patio of Posada 1914, surrounded by tropical plants and cozy decor. While here, Lola can personally help you choose a blend of coffee you’ll like and explain the various coffee preparation methods. She also sells her specially selected coffee blends, making a unique item to bring back home.
Address: Parque Urraca in Posada 1914, View on Google Maps
Brew Coffee Company
Brew Coffee Company (@brewcoffeecompanypty) is where to go for amazing coffee, delicious food, and a stylish atmosphere. If you’re into Avocado Toast, they have several creative options to choose from, served on their freshly baked sourdough bread.
Address: San Francisco, View on Google Maps
Unido’s (@cafeunido) cozy & chic cafes are the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee in Panama. They opened their first cafe in Panama City’s Coco del Mar neighborhood in early 2014, and since then they have opened coffee shops in 9 locations around Panama. Their stores feature six different blends of gourmet roasted coffee from Panama, and they also serve fantastic breakfast, sandwiches, and salad options.
Address: Several locations, Click here to see all locations
Leto (@letocoffee) is a beautiful coffee brew bar with locations in Panama City’s San Francisco & Costa del Este neighborhoods. They specialize in providing premium cups of Panamanian coffee that is sourced from Boquete and Volcan in the Chiriqui province of Panama. Whether you like your coffee prepared in a pour-over, Aeropress, Chemex, siphon, or just want a cappuccino with fancy latte art, this is the perfect spot to go.
Tonos (@tonoscafebakery) is a sleek & modern café located in Panama City’s upscale Costa del Este neighborhood. They actually roast the coffee in the café so you’re getting some of the freshest brews available. They also have an incredible selection of baked goods, including vegan and gluten-free options on the menu.
Address: Costa del Este, View on Google Maps
Paddle Coffee (@paddlecoffee) is a specialty coffee shop pushing the third wave coffee culture in Panama City. They use 100% single origin Panamanian coffee beans and roast the beans on-site to serve you the freshest cups of brew.
Address: El Dorado, View on Google Maps
While not quite located in Panama City, Cabrera Coffee (@cabreracoffee) deserves a mention for opening the first specialty coffee shop in Panama Oeste. They have a delicious food menu while serving up the best coffee you’ll find in the area.
Address: La Chorrera, View on Google Maps
Tiempos (@tiemposcoffee) is set within the very Instagrammable American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo. It’s the perfect spot to try a specialty coffee from Panama while taking in the scenery of a stylish boutique hotel.
Address: Casco Viejo, American Trade Hotel, View on Google Maps
Casa Sucre Coffeehouse
Casa Sucre Coffeehouse (@casasucrepanama) is a cozy getaway in Casco Viejo where you can enjoy one of their many varieties of Panamanian coffee and breakfast/lunch options.
Address: Casco Viejo, View on Google Maps