Farm: Various Smallholder Farms
Varietal: Caturra & Typica
Processing: Fully washed & dried on raised beds in a solar
Altitude: 1,800+ metres above sea level
Owner: 3 smallholder members of UNEFECOOP
Town / City: Monterrico & Vira Vira
Region: San Ignacio, Cajamarca
Overall: Hazelnut, milk chocolate, creamy
Valle el Condor – Organic - Peru
This community lot was produced by three smallholder members of the UNEFECOOP. All three members come from the small village of El Cauito in the highlands surrounding Peru’s La Coipa District. The area is characterised by its high, steep slopes, with the village itself being situated at 1,700+ metres above sea level. Many families here farm fresh water trout, as the cool weather lends itself to small scale fisheries of the sort.
Valle El Condor translates to ‘Valley of the Condor’, a reference to the sweeping views from the mountain tops here. The slopes are steep, but there are plateaus in many places, making the area ideal for livestock rearing.
Formed in 2014, the Cooperativa Agraria ”Union Y Fe” La Coipa (The Agrarian Cooperative ‘Union and Faith’ in La Coipa) came into being with the purpose of helping smallholder farmers from one of Peru’s most impoverished districts to find sustainable markets for their coffee and improve their livelihoods. The (rather long) name derives from a combination of words that founding members found significant and that communicated the strength and ideals at the heart of the cooperative. In particular, ‘Union’ (Union) and ‘Fe’ (Faith) demonstrate their belief that collaborative action and perseverance are the keys to achieving a better life for coffee producers and their families.
The Cooperative was first created by 233 smallholder farmers, most of whom farm on fewer than 4 hectares of land in this, one of Peru’s premier coffee-producing regions. Today, the cooperative counts 220 producers as members. These small farmers work 738.5 hectares in total, of which 558.75 ha is under coffee. For such small scale farmers, working with Union y Fe makes all the difference: the coop supports them with pre-financing, technical assistance and coffee quality improvement programming, along with other social programs.
Quality has, above all, been a focus for the organisation, given the demands of the current market for exceptional coffees. Processing in Peru is rustic, in all cases. Fermentation is usually determined ‘complete’ when a wooden pole stands unassisted in the fermented mass of coffee. When drying coffee, moisture is monitored by either biting the parchment, assessing firmness, or by cutting a bean in half. In the latter case, if one half jumps away from the knife, its humidity is 14-15%; if both halves jump, then it’s below 12%. Even using these simple techniques, the group is producing some great coffee, however.