Coffee production first sprang up in Panama in the early 1900s. At that time, though, there was wild coffee throughout the Pacific Ocean side of Panama. It was the Boquete Valley that stood up to lead the burgeoning industry, pioneering arabica coffee, which the International Coffee Organization today recognizes as some of the highest quality in the world.
The histories of Panama and Colombia are closely intertwined, the former uniting with the latter upon gaining independence from Spain in 1821. Throughout the following decades, this relationship was fraught with trouble, culminating in a war of separation in 1899, which led to the establishment of independent Panama in 1903, the United States supporting this move for economic concerns. In the decade that follows, the United States built the structure that would turn Panama into what it is today, the Panama Canal.