Archers Coffee Producer's Talk - Jamison Savage of Finca Deborah, Iris Estate, and Savage Coffees

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The Heart of our Partnerships

There has always been a taste for finer quality coffees in the UAE and the region. Catering to this has always been at the heart of our partnerships with producers. We seek and nurture relationships with partners that share our vision and values, and have the drive, expertise, and infrastructure to innovate and consistently deliver with quality. 

Our mission is to continually meet the evolving needs of our customers — at all levels — and contribute to advancing our industry and enriching our community. 

Jamieson Savage in Archers Coffee during Producer's Talk

Our Partner: Jamison Savage

Jamison Savage of Finca Deborah, Iris Estate, and Savage Coffees was the first partner we featured here on our blog in 2020. Then as now, he was known throughout the specialty coffee world due to his pioneering methods. Engaged in progressive processing techniques and farming practices respectful of nature, Jamison lets the most favorable, naturally occurring sensory nuances of a coffee shine on the palate. It’s a feat accomplished by few and evidently appreciated worldwide, as national and world coffee competitors frequently choose to showcase his coffees.

We say he’s legendary because of this. Our admiration grew even more when we heard the story of how he made one major life-changing decision for himself and his family that brought him into the world of coffee.

From Finance to Farm Life

2016 saw Finca Deborah in the limelight when Taiwan’s Berg Wu won the World Barista Championship using a Geisha from the estate. Since then, numerous national champions have entrusted Jamison to design coffees for their routines on the world stage, among which most recently were our very own WBrC representative David Disuanco, and France's Charity Cheung. But the Finca Deborah story started long before 2016 and far away from Panama. 

It was in the early 2000s when Jamison, at the height of his finance career in the US, decided a change was in order. He longed for a freer lifestyle to give himself and his family a chance to spend more time outdoors and travel. At the same time, he was looking for a real estate asset to fill a gap in his investment portfolio. The choice was between Panama and New Zealand. Panama eventually won out for practical reasons and the sheer beauty and promise of the land. Their deliberation and preparation took about five years and culminated in 2008, the year the Savage family uprooted and started anew on foreign soil. They made their new home in the Volcan region of the Chiriqui province, the seat of Panama Geisha cultivation and home to Finca Deborah, Iris Estate, and Savage Coffees.

Savage Coffees, Iris Estate, Finca Deborah Farm back in Panama

You could say the Volcan soil sparked Jamison’s passion for coffee, driving him to go deep into agronomy studies and fine-tune his innovative processing techniques. The quest to reflect the true taste of the land where the coffee is grown remains the ethos of the Savage enterprise: to produce and design “coffees of excellence using advanced techniques to capture variety, terroir, and flavor.”

Limited Selection Coffees & the Farms

Access to Jamison’s coffees has always been limited. This is a natural consequence of light harvest volumes due to environmental factors and stringent cherry-picking criteria, as well as the thorough quality checking and processing protocol. To achieve desired cup attributes without compromising the coffee’s integrity, the specifics of fermentation and drying are carefully controlled and documented. This includes time spent in the different steps, temperature and humidity levels, the amount and frequency of infusions during fermentation or agitation while drying, and even how thickly cherries are spread on the drying beds. 

Understandably, because of the effort and resources dedicated to growing and producing these coffees, Jamison needs to be selective about the markets that can receive them.

Knowing we have coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs in our market that have the sensibility to appreciate the finery of a Savage Geisha, we conceptualized our first Limited Selection with Jamison.  It is a succinct selection of exceptional coffees grown in the Volcan highlands, harvested by hand, and processed with purpose. Our intention: to provide this rare chance to experience unparalleled coffee artistry reflecting the Panamanian terroir in their cup.

Archers Coffee Limited Edition Photo

Finca Deborah Geisha Nirvana 

Nirvana is a Nitrogen Macerated Natural Geisha from Finca Deborah, Jamison Savage’s foremost terroir-cognizant coffee plantation at 1,950 masl in Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama. The farm rests beneath rainforest canopy, is organically cultivated, and is entirely solar-powered. The pristine surroundings allow the elegant Geisha trees to flourish, so cherries simply take in and contain the innate lushness and vibrance of the environment. Artfully processed through Jamison Savage’s progressive methods, Nirvana embodies the splendor of its origin. 

Best on Filter, tasting notes are orange blossom, yellow peach, marmalade, strawberries, and raw honey.

Iris Estate Geisha Enigma

Enigma is a Carbonic Macerated Natural Geisha from Iris Estate, the latest in Jamison Savage’s pursuit of the perfect cup, in collaboration with Sasa Sestic of Project Origin and Elvin Chin Wei of Cloud Catcher. Situated 1,850 to 2,222 masl amid the nutrient-rich, highly organic soils of Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama, there is a confluence of the ideal conditions for super-specialty coffee to “create itself.” Geisha cherries take their time to sweeten in the cooler temperatures at such extreme altitudes and with just the right amount of shade and sunlight, thanks to rainforest cover and the farm’s orientation to the sun. Processed with the least human intervention, Enigma is an eloquent expression of the very land it grew on.

Best on Filter, tasting notes are mandarin orange, floral honey, apricot, and bubble gum ice cream.

Savage Coffees Geisha Spectrum

Spectrum is a Washed Geisha grown at 1,850 to 2,300 masl from a collaboration of boutique coffee producers in the highlands of Boquete Valley and Volcan, Chiriqui — also known as Panama’s Valley of Flowers and Eternal Spring. The community’s heritage expertise is built on generations of deep commitment to quality and close attention to detail. Paired with years of disciplined experimentation, Savage Coffees have consistently delivered coffees reflecting the land's natural character and have been deemed competition-worthy by coffee champions in the national and international arenas.

Best on Filter, tasting notes are floral jasmine, bergamot, tangerine, apricot, and nectarine.

Archers & Jamison Savage Partnership

The mutual trust and sourcing rhythm we have established with Jamison have allowed us to make exceptional coffees available to our customers through the years. We started with Panama Geisha Anthem in 2019. Received well, and with the clamor for more, our team worked tirelessly to secure exclusive distributorship of competition-level Savage coffees in 2020, the crux of our inaugural Competition Series. It included three coffees from Finca Deborah: Echo, Limitless, and Nirvana. This collaboration opened the door to a broader array of spectacular Savage coffees: Lucid, Iridescence, and Parabolic.

Archers Coffee Parabolic and Don Eduardo 2022

Our shared vision and values tided our partnership through the pandemic era and allowed us to come out strong with our Limited Selection, a select few other Panama Geishas, and a more inclusive Savage coffee offering with the addition of non-Geisha varieties Caturra and Catuai.

Archers Coffee Panama Caturra Essence and Catuai Elixer

Jamison’s Sharjah Visit

Last September 15, 2022, we had the rare privilege of hosting Jamison and his wife, Leslie, at our Sharjah roastery for our 2nd Producer’s Talk. In dialogue with our very own Frederick Bejo, Archers Co-Founder and Green Buyer, we learned more about his coffee philosophy of embracing and showcasing variety and terroir. 

Archers Coffee and Friends with Jamison Savage during the Producers Talk

During the talk, Jamison, an environmentalist-at-heart, emphasized that the priority at his estates is to preserve the natural ecosystem and keep it healthy for the coffee trees to flourish alongside the existing flora and fauna. And while he is famed for pushing the boundaries of processing, he remains steadfast in the belief that processing should only “magnify what we already have” and not exceed it.

Jamison Savage at Archers Coffee in Sharjah United Arab of Emirates

Coffee enthusiasts cupping in Archers Coffee during Jamison Savage Producers Talk

The discussion also touched on Jamison’s views on the future of coffee. Asked to share his thoughts about the delicate pricing situation, he put his finance hat on and briefly explained that it is inevitable because of global inflation. (This is an important subject we will revisit another time here in our blog).

Someone also asked how our industry can cope with evolving consumer expectations when the baseline, especially in the UAE, our home market, is already relatively high. While there was no answer just yet, Jamison retrained our gaze on the possibilities ahead.

He reminded us that every year, we see processes evolve too and disclosed that for his enterprise at least, 2023 holds a lot of experimentation. With a visionary's conviction, he continued: “We’ll get that question answered; there’s no question about it.” With his world-renowned track record, we know we won’t be left hanging.

Written by: Nadine Onate | Photos by: Pauline Disuanco, David Disuanco

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