We recently wrapped up a visit with our farming partners in La Convencion, Peru. It was about three years ago that we established this relationship and I’d be lying if I said it’s all been smooth sailing. The year after we selected the 30 farmers that we would work with (based on quality and sustainability), the region was hit hard by the devastating leaf rust fungus, roya. To compound matters, oil was discovered in the area and as a result labor has become scarce and costly. However, we’ve remained committed and are beginning to see our investments pay off. By all accounts the flowering has been strong with high expectations for next year’s crop, and our premium that supported the construction of 30 solar driers has resulted in better dried, cleaner, sweeter coffees.
To appreciate the distance this coffee travels to reach your cup, here is the breakdown of the journey from Seattle: Flights to Houston to Lima to Cusco, a jaw-dropping drive through the sacred valley and over a 14,000 foot pass through the snowy mountains before descending into the buzz of insects and parrots squawking that make up the lush high jungles of La Convencion. We set up camp in the town of Quillabamba and made daily sojourns through the winding back country roads that lead up to the farming communities of Canelon, Santa Rosa, Alto Pamucuyoc, and others. Straight through and you’d be looking at about 30 hours of travel.
We were able to reinvigorate our project by visiting and listening to our farmers and putting in some serious work cupping and calibrating with the crew at the mill. We rely on their expertise to ensure the success of these coffees. Deliveries are scrupulously inspected and cupped and set aside awaiting their imminent journey to the Pacific Northwest.
Though leaf rust has been a challenge, the worst seems to be past, and some farmers have even discovered a rust resistant strain of bourbon and set up a nursery for the next generation. We won’t see the fruit for another 3 years most likely, but there is hope on the horizon. Staying on top of fertilization schedule and maintaining cleanliness on the farms has aided in the health of the trees. Still, a hot, humid, and rainy summer could cause a flare, so most of the farmers are cautiously optimistic.
These coffees have now shipped and we hope to have them dialed in and roasted in time for Christmas. The sweet almond essence and caramel flavored nature of this high-grown typica is a perfect winter treat. Looking forward to it.