How To Order
Sourcing Trips | 26 Jan 23

Leah Warren’s Exceptional Time in Peru

  • DSC00284
  • As I step off the plane in Lima, I am eager to begin my adventure. I transfer onto another plane to venture to Jaen where my journey officially commences, in the heart of coffee producing land of Peru. My trip here is to visit coffee farms, processing facilities, and participating in Peru’s Cup of Excellence Competition as a jury member.

    I am greeted by a group of ElevaFinca staff, one of  our exporting partners in Peru. A group dedicated to ensuring producers are growing coffee sustainably and receiving a livable wage for the coffee they grow. The next four days are planned out – a collection of farm visits, interesting meals, coffee tastings, and embracing the high altitudes of Peru. We go to dinner, chat over chicken, rice, and local vegetables discussing the upcoming days.

  • IMG_4257
  • In the morning, we travel to Café Selva Norte, the mill where ElevaFinca and others process coffee. Many producers in this region have small pulpers and fermentation tanks on their farms, so they typically bring parchment to the mill to be further dried and hulled. Producers will either gather their parchment and deliver it to the mill, or go to collection points, where representatives of the mill gather the parchment, making it easier for the producers. The land is rugged, steep, and difficult to navigate. Driving up is even rough. During rainy periods, the roads are impassable.  Producers here use horses to maneuver the trip to trucks that take their coffee to mill.

    The facilities were impressive – sorting and grading machines were in place to ensure uniform quality was maintained, and all lower quality beans or debris were separated from the lots. We then had the magical opportunity to cup the coffees that are processed at the facility, one of which was Aromas del Valle – an association of producers we bring into our North American Market every year.

  • IMG_4314
  • Selva Norte works with a good number of producer associations. Aromas del Valle (600 producers), Cedros (303 producers, 79 women), Gold Coffees  (585 producers, 135 women), and Perfils (248 producers, 62 women). Each of these organizations collect the coffee from their producers and bring the lots to the mill to complete processing and sorting.

  • DSC00313
  • The following day, I get to actually meet some of the producers contributing coffee to Aromas del Valle. Scents of the Valley – I understand the name now. Looking out, seeing the valley, all of the aromas of processing coffee, flowers, and fresh air greet me as I travel to the farms. Lunch was freshly prepared for us – chicken and rice. We nibbled and discussed the threat of La Roya (coffee leaf rust) something producers also struggle with in Peru. I learn that newer varietals are being planted to combat the disease including Geisha, Catimor, and Pache.

  • IMG_4453
  • On my final day with ElevaFinca, we drive to visit four associations working with ElevaFinca. It was great to see so many amazing people, working to improve the livelihoods of coffee producers and creating a future for coffee despite the looming La Roya.

    My time here has taught me that not only are producers facing issues with spreading diseases, but also lack of financing and political turmoil and the pandemic. Associations are providing food for many producers.  A combination of issues have reduced yields this year by 30% , off year, pandemic and infrastructure costs, the astronomic rise in the cost of inputs and  La Roya. Producers are also struggling with connecting to markets, that is why people like ElevaFinca are important. They gather together various producer organizations and help sell coffee to markets worldwide and bring economic revenue to the producers responsible for the tasty coffee.

  • IMG_4327
  • The story of coffee in Peru is changing and brightening – more producers are looking to utilize unique processing methods. Newer varietals are being used, and producers rarely use chemical inputs, making their coffee de facto organic. All of these qualities make this coffee valuable worldwide. And with the Cup of Excellence competition, these coffees are beginning to be recognized by roasters and importers throughout the world.

    The next few days were thus dedicated to the Cup of Excellence competition. I had the opportunity to cup 40 coffees, primarily from the Cajamarca region, with 22 jurors from around the world. Cupping ensued for three days, which was exciting. We also had free time to roam the town in the evenings and I witnessed an exciting government festival celebrating coffee.

  • L1040005
  • The trip was rewarding thanks to the work being done by the producer organizations and international groups like ElevaFinca, who are seeking to create markets for these amazing Peru lots around the world. It was a true gift to be able to taste such an array of coffees from Peru, exuding brilliance thanks to the climbing altitudes and rich soils. I made many friends, laughed, and gazed out at the landscapes. Marveling in the altitude, the kindness of the people, and the coffee.