Finca Ecológica, Lima Coffees. Agua Colorada, Peru
The South American country of Peru, is an exciting coffee producer with rich biodiversity. This is demonstrated by the 28 different microclimates that are hosted by the country. These microclimates are not only conducive to an exciting array of flora and fauna, but also an exciting array of coffee. From the tropics of the Amazon to the high altitude of the Andes (of which 25% of the nation’s coffee is grown), Peru presents the coffee aficionado with a dynamic offering.
The coffee production of modern-day Peru is centred in the region of Cajamarca, where around 50% of the nation’s coffee is grown. Additionally, the majority of Peru’s production is small scale, as many farms are under 3 hectares. While there are some advantages in maintaining supply chain control within smallholder production, there have been issues in accessing further credit, along with managing production and processing tasks.
During the 20th century, there were a few key events that dramatically changed the Peruvian coffee industry. Firstly, the Peruvian government defaulted on a loan from the British government, which resulted in giving the British a repayment of two million hectares of land from Central Peru. Around 25% of this land was converted to plantations (including coffee crops). However, the government of Juan Velasco made attempts to stunt the growth potential of this agricultural development. This included the withdrawal of government support, which dramatically weakened the coffee industry.
This vacuum then led to various non-government organisations (such as Fair Trade) moving into Peru to support the local industry. Jump to today, and there are over 420, 000 hectares of land used for coffee production, with more than 220 Peruvian families make a livelihood from this industry. Additionally, a significant proportion of Peruvian coffee is Fair Trade certified.
Now, here’s a quick rundown on some of the key regions in Peru:
Located on the northern end of the Peruvian Andes, Cajamarca offers the benefits of tropical climates and rich soils for coffee production. The local smallholder producers are well organised and provide additional technical support, training and other community development initiatives to other members of the local industry. The altitude (1,900-1,950 metres above sea level) lends itself to the production of Typica, Caturra and Bourbon varieties, and the region is known for producing coffees with bright acidity, along with notes of red and yellow fruits.
Known for producing almost a quarter of Peru’s coffee, the coffee of Junin is grown in lush rainforests. The region was disadvantaged by guerrilla activity in the 1990s, which resulted in the neglect of many coffee trees, which then led to the spreading of plant diseases. The coffee industry of Junin was reduced to nothing, before experiencing a restart in the late 1990s. However, since then, the region has grown to become a significant contributor to the national coffee export. The coffees from Junin showcase a flavour profile of black and yellow fruits, with intense acidity and a creamy body.
Located in the south of Peru (an area known for the growth of specialty and organic coffee), Cusco boasts a coffee industry dominated by high quality smaller holder producers that grow Caturra, Bourbon, and Typica varieties. These coffees showcase a flavour profile of plums, raisins and grapes, along with a creamy body and a medium acidity. The region is home to the historic site of Machu Picchu and hosts an agricultural economy that is focused on both coffee and coca.
Resting on the eastern side of the Andes (at 900 to 1,200 metres above sea level), San Martin is home to cooperatives that are diversifying crops alongside their coffee production (such as cacao and honey). The local economy has significantly strengthened, as indicated by a dramatic decrease in poverty (from 70% to 31% of the regional population). Coffees from San Martin have a medium body, with notes of chocolate, nuts and caramel.
Image by Cafe Imports