Lost Origin: From Farm to Lab

Thursday, 18 April, 2024

Words by Kate Burnett

Over the weekend, Martin Wölfl of Austria secured 1st place at the World Brewers Cup.  The theme of his world-beating set was innovation. He focused on 6 key innovations that led him to choose the equipment and techniques used and the coffee he used was an anaerobic natural Panama geisha processed by Lost Origin Coffee.

Lost Origin Coffee is a young business, founded in January of 2023. Frans Zeimatz and Andy Typalos began the process of setting up a processing laboratory where they would use previous experience in beer brewing to master fermentation in coffee. Frans writes on the Lost Origin Instagram page: “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’s Geisha, there had to be potential.”

Panamanian geisha is renowned as being some of the best in the world. There are huge expectations around high-end specialty coffee, particularly of the geisha varietal, leaving Panama. Frans and Andy were entering an industry that was well-established and steeped in tradition. “It started with a community of producers, roasters and brave workers, who all eagerly and selflessly, shared with us their knowledge, their time and even their homes. This community has taken the Panama Specialty Coffee and Panama Geisha name to new heights, so we are honored to have been welcomed and embraced by all as we shared our Craft Brewing approach.”

The team began sourcing unprocessed cherries from some of the most prolific coffee farms in Panama such as Alteri Coffee, Café Don Benjie, Café Gran Del Val and Finca La Estrella. From here, they bring these cherries back to their fermentation laboratory in Panama City where they use their innovative ideas around fermentation to process the coffees. “With the lab we seek to develop a common language so we can start talking about coffee’s microbial life, and use the knowledge from craft beer to improve the processes this industry relies upon, if we don’t, we limit our chances to innovate, produce better cups and understand the future of specialty coffee for our benefit and the benefit of our fellow coffee professionals and most importantly the producers.”

One short year later, in January 2024, they would process the coffee that would ultimately find its way to the cups of the World Brewer’s Cup judges and stand at the top of the podium. Their foundations in science and giving back have made them one of the most exciting coffee producers in the world at the moment. 

“I started following Lost Origin back in 2023 when they had around 100 followers on Instagram. They were in the process of building their lab, which is partially government funded, and I could see immediately that their attention to detail was extremely high”, says Dario Scilipoti, Green Coffee Buyer and Owner of Bluebird Coffee Roastery. 

Lost Origin have captured the imaginations of the most influential and innovative coffee professionals in the specialty coffee space. “It was apparent that Frans and Andy had lofty goals from the outset and the evidence of their innovation came with a 7th place at Best of Panama in their first year of producing”, says Dario. Their passion and hunger to innovate has resonated with many coffee professionals who recognise their own motivations in this small, dynamic team. The anaerobic natural geisha that Martin used to win the World Brewer’s Cup in 2024 was only a 3kg lot. Lost Origin produce in small batches that are given individual attention by the Lost Origin team, making their product extremely exclusive. 

After the 2024 World Brewer’s Cup, Lost Origin is bound to find itself well and truly under the spotlight of the specialty coffee industry. It is exciting to look to a future of a new approach to fermentation and for us, the coffee consumers, to taste some new and exciting coffees.

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