Hello fellow coffee lover(s) and welcome to the first of our "deep dives", where we will be giving you fun facts and information about our coffees! Where were they produced? How were they grown? Is the coffee organic? Is it fairly sourced and traded? Where in (insert country or region) was this coffee grown? So, whether you are a coffee nerd (like us) or just genuinely curious, step up, and let's deep dive into our medium roast Peru coffee, or as we are calling it: Kohaku.
Our Peru coffee is sourced from the Asociacion Cafe del Valle, in the regions of Utcubamba and Luya, Peru. (Northern Peru)
There are approximately 190 coffee producers, or farms, working within the Asociacion, or what we would call a co-op here in the US. Small farms working together to produce a crop large enough to meet demands. The Asociacion Cafe del Valle is certified organic, and these farms harvest between the months of March thru September.
Coffee harvest in Peru primarily uses the Fully Washed processing method. What this means is that when the coffee cherry is picked, the cherry is pulped, fermented, and dried in the sun. In the past, farmers would use tarps laid out on the ground or under the rooves of their homes in order to dry the coffee cherries out, but today the cooperative has helped to establish a centralized drying facility where members are encouraged to dry their product there, rather than using the old method. (both work, though)
After drying, the coffee is sold to the cooperative, itself, where it then goes to a quality control team that monitors all of the incoming coffee for consistency and quality. (Learning to spot inconsistencies and "bad beans" was Micah's least favorite of his certification classes, because he had to dig through coffee beans one by one and look for water damage, insect spots, bean defects, and rocks, just to name a few)
Today, Peru is the largest exporter or organic Arabica coffee. With the country's high altitudes and fertile soil, the small farms are able to produce some of the highest quality specialty coffees that we can get. It's believed that coffee arrived in Peru sometime in the 1700s, very little was exported until the late 1800s. Between that time, it's believed that most of the produced coffee was consumed locally, but when a coffee plant disease hit Indonesia in the late 1800s and wiped out most of the crop, most European coffee importers began searching for another supplier, and Peru was officially "put on the map" so to speak.
Today, Peruvian coffee farmers are overwhelmingly small-scale. Farmers usually process their coffee crop on their own farm, or use the cooperative's localized resources in order to get their crop in front of buyers. Having a membership with the co-op helps protect these small farmers from exploitation and makes sure they are getting a fair price for their crop, based on the grade and quantity being sold. While the Cafe del Valle has just under 200 members currently, it's estimated that only 15-25% of the smallholder farmers are members of the co-op.
Micah and I would love to visit this co-op one day, and put his coffee grading skills to the real test (not really, he would hate that, but we would love to meet the farmers!)