Farm: El Cedro & El Níspero
Varietal: Red Caturra, Typica, & Bourbon
Processing: Fully washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,850 meters above sea level
Owner: Tomas Bueno Medina
Town / City: La Naranjas
Overall: Peach, apricot, honey
Tomás Bueno Medina, Las Naranjas – La Coipa - Peru
Nearly every year, Mercanta send a member of the team to Peru to select the very best lots of new crop to add to our offering. Unfortunately this year, due to COVID-19, this was not possible. With one of the highest COVID rates in the world, our partner in the region, Alpes Andinos, has faced untold pressures at exporting their lots this year. Not only has Eric and the team at Alpes Andinos faced the usual problems of rust and untimely rains, but nationwide restrictions and curfews have made coordinating it’s 115+ members even more difficult. However, with great effort, we are proud to be offering some truly fantastic coffees from the region this year, thanks to Eric and his team.
Through extensive cupping, Tomas Bueno‘s farms, El Cedro & El Níspero, have been singled out as some of the top lots from the region this year. Tomas’ farms are located in La Naranjas, La Coipa, around 20km from the association’s headquarters in Jaen; high in Peru’s Cajamarca department. Tomas has been a member of the association Alpes Andinos since it first began in 2019. This means he is often regarded as one of the founders, along with his neighbour, Elmer Cruz.
Tomas, aged 34, bought his first farm, El Níspero when he was just 25 years old. Containing just 1 hectare of Typica and located some 500 meters away, Tomas has been farming the same lot for over a decade, honing his craft and using his 1 hectare to produce a fantastic cup. More recently, Tomas has inherited a second 2-hectare farm from his grandparents, El Cedro. Situated at over 1850masl, Tomas’ lot is made up of local varieties, Typica, Red Caturra & Bourbon; all of which thrive at high altitudes. This year, Tomas has also begun renovating a small section of the farm to include Yellow Caturra. This drive to improve quality with new varietals in one shared and promoted by the association. Alpes Andinos believing that producing great quality leads to producer empowerment and wider benefits for all coffee families.
Tomas’s farms take their names from the trees that surround them. Nispero, being the fruit tree found on the lot and Cedro after the huge cedar trees planted by Tomas’s grandparents to create shade for their coffee. Like many other farms in the region, the name is symbolic, reflecting the distinguishing characteristics in the surrounding area. Although other fruits may be found at Tomas’ farms, coffee production is currently the only means of income, with any other produce grown reserved only for personal consumption. Tomas however, is a keen beekeeper! Although this too is just a hobby.
Consistent ‘selective’ tree pruning is conducted to maintain the quality of the crop and to increase its yield. Farmers work in 15-year rotations, focusing on each variety individually. When a plant reaches the end of its 15-year life cycle, it will be dramatically cut back using the ‘Zoqueo’ practice. This sees the tree cut back to the stem just 30 centimetres from the ground, stimulating the emergence of new growth. In preparation for this event, trees of the same variety are planted two years in advance, meaning there is an uninterrupted supply of mature cherry.
Soil analysis is regularly conducted, with fertiliser applied in May and after the harvest in October and November. For Fertiliser, Tomas uses a mixture of compost and ‘guano de las Islas’, meaning guano from the islands. Located just off the coast of Peru are a collection of small islands, home to large sea bird populations. These birds produce large amounts of excrement, or, guano, which settles on the ground as a nutrient-rich top layer. Guano is collected on the island and transported to the mainland to be used as a fertiliser.
Tomas’ harvest spans from May to October. Coffee processing techniques in the region are tried and tested methods of production, often passed down through the generations. The process begins with the cherries being selectively handpicked, before being floated in cool clean water to remove any low-density cherries. Next, the coffee is pulped: each producer has their own de pulper located on the farm, often close to the house or main building. Once the coffee has been de-pulped, the beans are placed into sacks with grain pro liners to induce a dry fermentation for around 36-40 hours, depending on the climate. The coffee is then washed three times to remove all remaining mucilage, drain any excess water, before finally placing the beans on raised beds to dry. Here, the beans will remain for around 25-30 days, depending on the level of rain.