– Size: 1,285,216 sq km
– Capital City: Lima
– Main Port City: Callao
– Population: 30,741,062 (July 2016)
– Language/s Spoken: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)
– Growing Regions: Amazonas, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Cusco, Huánaco, Junin, Pura, Puno, Villa Rica
– Common Varieties: Bourbon, Typica, Catuai, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Pache
– Country: Specific Grading – SHB (Strictly Hard Bean, 1350+ masl); HB (Hard Bean, 1200–1350 masl)
– Harvest Period: June–September
– Typical Arrival: January–June
Though coffee arrived in Peru relatively early—in the middle of the 1700s—it wasn’t cultivated for commercial export until nearly the 20th century, with increased demand from Europe and the significant decrease in coffee production in Indonesia. British presence and influence in the country in particular helped increase and drive exports: In the early 1900s, the British government took ownership of roughly 2 million hectares of land from the Peruvian government as payment on a defaulted loan, and much of that land became British-owned coffee plantations.
As in many Central and South American countries, as the large European-owned landholdings were sold or redistributed throughout the 20th century, the farms became smaller and more fragmented, offering independence to farmers but also limiting their access to resources and a larger commercial market. Unlike many other countries whose coffee economy is dominated by smallholders, however, Peru lacks the organization or infrastructure to provide economic or technical support to farmers—a hole that outside organizations and certifications have sought to fill. The country has a remarkable number of certified-organic coffees, as well as Fair Trade–, Rainforest Alliance–, and UTZ-certified coffees. Around 30 percent of the country’s smallholders are members of democratic co-ops, which has increased the visibility of coffees from the area, but has done little to bring incredibly high-quality lots into the spotlight.
As of the 2010s, Peru is one of the top producers of Arabica coffee, often ranked fifth in world production and export of Arabica. The remoteness of the coffee farms and the incredibly small size of the average farm has prevented much of the single-farm differentiation that has allowed for microlot development and marketing in other growing regions, but as with everything else in specialty coffee, this is changing quickly as well. The country’s lush highlands and good heirloom varieties offer the potential for growers to beat the obstacles of limited infrastructure and market access, and as production increases, we are more likely to see those types of advancements.
There is a lot of Catimor in Peru, but also a good amount of old heirlooms like Bourbon and Typica – also labelled ‘National’ by locals. Other notable varieties found there are Catuai, Caturra and Mundo Novo.
Specialty coffees from Cajamarca and Amazonas region are often full bodied, sweet, with bright acidity. The common flavor profile can be depicted by notes of cocoa, dried fruit, and light citrus. Coffees from Peru can both be a valuable single or accentuate a blend.
The average Peruvian farmer cultivates between 2 and 3 hectares of coffee trees, and harvests between July and October. Processing is directly done within the compounds of the smallholder’s farm, often with manual crank de-pulpers. The coffee is fermented, sun-dried beside the road or on small patio’s, and delivered to a local mill where it is prepared for export. However, the farmers in Peru also faces challenges. HVC describes the general challenges in the Peruvian coffee industry to revolve around illiteracy, drying capacity, unpredictable rains and low wages.
COOPERATIVES AND ASSOCIATIONS
Cooperatives and associations receive the parchment coffee from their smallholders. They make sure batches are sorted and checked for defects before shipping. There are two different ways farmer organizations are legally organized in Peru: through the traditional cooperative system and legal associations. Cooperatives, not limited by geography, can buy throughout Peru. Whereas associations are generally limited to a specific geographical area, meaning they can’t buy from neighbouring provinces.