Five Senses has collaborated with Lost Origin Coffee Lab to bring you a seriously special release this Christmas. Franz and the team have inoculated this Heirloom varietal with one of their favourite beer yeasts, Saison and their house culture of Lactobacillus to aid in the fermentation. The resulting Altieri, Panama Heirloom is a truly unforgettable flavour profile of sparkling natural wine, forest berries & Christmas spices. Try it for yourself here!
With an origin story that wouldn’t feel out of place on the silver screen, Franz Zeimetz, in search of inspiration and new flavours, stumbled upon the world of coffee by chance. From humble beginnings as a driver for some of the most prestigious coffee estates in Panama to crafting exceptional micro-lots for the global barista championships, Franz’s story is nothing short of remarkable.
“I first heard about a brewery in Chicago experimenting with coffee, and I knew with over 6 years of brewing under my belt, and the proximity to Panama Gesha, there had to be potential.”
Franz had been working in craft beer since he was only 18 years old, for a local brewery in Panama called Casa Bruja. He started out in production—bottling and packing—before delving deeper into the art of brewing and barrel-aging techniques.
Eager to bridge the gap between the realms of beer and coffee, Franz cultivated connections with prominent coffee producers in Panama such as Lamastus Estates, Santos Cafe and Elida. Initially working as a driver for these estates, Franz seized the opportunity to showcase Panama's treasures to roasters and coffee enthusiasts. With his newfound passion for specialty coffee and his vast knowledge of the craft beer industry, Wilford Lamastus and Diego Lezcano of Santos gave him a chance to experiment with using traditional beer brewing methods to process their coffees. He took some cherries home in a cooler and set up a small lab in his garage.
Franz’s collaborations with Diego and Wilford proved to be a success, as they explored the fusion of Panama coffee cherries and Casa Bruja’s house cultures. The pioneering experiments conducted in his garage lab, culminated in Santos clinching the top spot in the 2021 Best of Panama and caught the attention of world barista champion Benjamin Put, who sought out Franz to create some experimental batches for competition.
Crafting the Future: Lost Origin's Innovative Approach
Building upon these triumphs, the concept of Lost Origin Coffee Labs emerged. Garnering industry acclaim and securing government funding, they established a cutting-edge processing facility.
With his vast brewing background, Franz understands the importance of being able to measure, control and clean the environment in which microorganisms interact. Lost Origin's innovative approach involves custom fermentation vessels and advanced drying rooms, meticulously controlling every stage of coffee processing. Their laboratory delves into the role of microorganisms in shaping coffee flavours, employing yeast and bacteria combinations for distinctive cup profiles.
Situated above a craft brewery in Panama City and 8 hours away from the nearest farm, Lost Origin is not your typical coffee processing mill. Franz’s perspective as an outsider drives a culture of experimentation, challenging conventional norms in coffee processing. With access to some of the world's best coffee, he has built a unique platform for exploration and innovation.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Embracing Collaboration
Recognising that the coffee industry can sometimes be perceived as serious and traditional, Franz seeks to infuse the fun and collaborative spirit reminiscent of the craft beer culture. His vision doesn’t stop at personal success; envisions symbiotic growth where progress in one industry benefits the other. His aspiration is to elevate both the beer and coffee industries by pushing the boundaries and discovering new flavours and techniques.
Collaborative efforts with producers, roasters, and dedicated individuals have paved the way for Lost Origin to redefine the possibilities within Panama's specialty coffee and famed Gesha varietals. Franz’s efforts at Lost Origin Coffee redefine the landscape of coffee processing, setting new benchmarks and shaping the future of the industry. As the realms of coffee and beer converge, Lost Origin’s visionary approach paves the way for an exciting era of exploration and flavour evolution.