Greetings from the high jungle of Central Peru, where the coffee harvest has commenced and will continue towards peak productivity in the coming months. Peru is blessed with some of the most magnificent terrain in all of the world, with the drive from the dry desert Pacific coast traversing snowcapped mountains before descending into the fertile valleys of high jungle and then onward to the sweltering, lush Amazon basin. Peru ranks fifth in the world in Arabica coffee production with its suitable land for cultivation running the length of the eastern slopes of the Andes for thousands of miles. I am currently in the Central growing region of Chanchamayo, and will continue my journey southward in the coming days. Travel here is time consuming; in the days I have been here I’ve likely spent half of my waking time in a car.
Though Peru is a prolific producer of coffee, the farmers and producers of Peru are eager to elevate its reputation for quality. In the coffee industry, Peru is primarily known as an origin that produces a large volume of organic and fair trade certified coffees, with consistently average cup quality. It has satisfied consuming nation’s demand for certification, but has yet to become known for truly remarkable and memorable coffees. This isn’t for lack of suitable land or dedicated farmers, but has more to do with the existing infrastructure and culture of coffee that exists. The incentive for quality has not been provided, when the demand has been primarily for certified coffees destined for blends. Our goal here is to find either a farm or community of farmers whom we can offer a premium on the basis of quality and then collaborate with a mill and exporter who is willing to guide our coffee through to the port and onward to Seattle.
In the Chanchamayo growing region there exist the older estates of Villa Rica, as well as many cooperatives that have been established to supply certified coffees. Though the cooperatives have done much for the community here, they do not appear to have the capacity to work in separating micro-regions of the highest quality and keep these lots separate throughout the milling processes. I have gathered samples and visited some smaller estates in the area that have shown great promise in the early harvest cups I’ve tasted, including one fascinating biodynamic farm with an extraordinary composting system. These are farms that could work directly with Caffe Vita and in the following weeks we will continue to evaluate and consider them as potential partners. For now however, I must continue on to the southern region of La Convencion – the travel from here will take almost two full days.