A first arrival of the 2016 Peruvian harvest landed this week after great anticipation. Café Imports green buyer Piero Cristiani has been working relentlessly with Peru in recent years, visiting several times per harvest--strengthening relationships, focusing communication, and unlocking the great potential of these Andean coffees. We took a moment during early harvest in Cajamarca to sit Piero down and get his thoughts on how the state of specialty-coffee is in Peru, and what we can be excited about this year. Watch the video below for an early harvest insight, and read onward for a post-harvest reflection...Spoiler Alert: this harvest marks a first Regional Select grade for our Peruvian offerings (which landed this week, beanology here). More regional select, microlots, APU/CENFROCAFE coffees in the coming arrivals, so much to look forward to! In the meantime please enjoy this Peru 2016 field report from Piero.
As an origin, Peru has all the conditions necessary to produce world-class coffee: concentrated volumes of coffee growing at and above 1700 masl, a prominence of Typica, Bourbon, and Caturra, and a movement among the producing population, away from subsidence-farming, and into seeing quality coffee production as a viable business.
Peru has the potential to produce the same volume and quality as Colombia, but a few key challenges must continue to be addressed for this to come to fruition.
Firstly, coffee culture in Peru isn't as strong as it is in Colombia. Peru lacks a government agency such as Colombia's FNC. Without an organization like this, there is no support for producers in terms of technical assistance, loans, seeds, etc. Having been buying high quality Peruvian coffee since 2008, we have seen the movement towards higher quality development. It has been slow, but it has been consistent and will only continue to progress towards higher yields of higher quality coffee.
Another factor that challenges Peru's producers is geographical. The average distance from a coffee farm to a point of parchment delivery is very far. So far, in fact, that producers will wait until they have a full truckload of coffee to delivery before making the trek. This inevitably risks degradation of the coffee itself as it awaits transit while stored under poor conditions.
Lastly, there is very little drying infrastructure in Peru. Most all coffee gets dried on plastics tarps on the ground. When coffee sits close to the ground or soil, it gets contaminated, risking mold, uneven drying, and the occasional direct rain.
Although these challenges call for very clear and direct solutions, this hasn't stopped Peru from producing some very impressive coffee this year. So exciting, in fact, that we have decided to expand our Regional Select program from Colombia and apply it in Peru. Producer lots are cupped and classified according to their quality. The 85+ coffees are placed into our Regional Select lots and the 87+ coffees are then further separated as Producer Microlots, highlighting Peru's full potential. We are looking forward to seeing Peru become a power-house in coffee in the following years.
Photos by Andy Reiland - For more, visit our Peru Photo Gallery