In 1894, J.R. Thomas was contracted by a Chicago firm (Boquete Coffee and Commercial
Company) to administer their coffee finca in Boquete. J.R. Thomas and his wife
Sarah moved from California to Boquete. J.R. Thomas managed Finca Santa Maria
(in the Alto Lino region) from 1894 until 1916. Under his management the finca
prospered. In 1907 it had 75,000 coffee trees,
and continued to do well until J.R. Thomas died unexpectedly in 1916. With
his passing, the Boquete Coffee and Commercial Company choose to discontinue
its coffee business.
The finca was purchased by a Swiss family,
A.O. (Albert Oscar) Sandberg and his wife Olga. They renamed the
finca "La Bonita". A.O. Sandberg died in 1945, but his son A.O. "Buster"
Sandberg continued to operate the finca as a family business. In 2000
Buster Sandberg was 80 years old but still going strong.
The Finca Santa Maria tokens are the earliest known coffee finca tokens
The town of Boquete is
in the mountains of Chiriqui province, where the climate is cooler
than at sea-level. Coffee, oranges, flowers and other agricultural products are
grown in the region surrounding Boquete.