Cajamarca is a semi-dry, semi-cold, tropical highland of Peru with very fertile soil at high Andean mountain elevations. All of these factors contribute to the potential of specialty coffee production in the area, which is growing. Smallholder producers farm on 2-3 hectares of land, many of which practice organic farming. Most farmers in the area work independently, but the recent increase in cooperatives has been effective in increasing the quality of coffees produced in the area.
This particular coffee is from a single farm, Finca La Lima, owned by Moises Garcia . The 2-hectare farm is located in the San Ignacio municipality & is planted with about 8,000 coffee plants. this farms sandy, loam soil, and a tropical climate give rise to some beautiful coffees. During harvest only the ripest of cherries are selected for processing and depulped on the same day. Once depulped, the coffee is fermented without water for an average period of 15 hours and then fully washed 3 times with clean, spring water. For the drying stage, the coffee is moved to raised beds inside a covered dryer & a patio is also used for overflow drying. After the 8-15 day period that it takes to fully dry these coffees, Moises then places his coffee into bags and stores them in a cool, dark room before delivering them to Lima Coffees for cupping, milling, and exportation.
The vast majority of coffee in Perú is washed, and many producers own their own wet-milling equipment, though smallholders may also deliver cherry to a central processing unit or cooperative for processing. The coffees are usually depulped the same day they are harvested, and given a 12–18-hour open-air fermentation before being washed clean of mucilage. (The fermentation time may be longer in cooler areas at higher elevation.) Drying styles vary in Perú, and coffee may be dried on patios, raised beds, in parabolic dryers, or mechanically.
Microlots from Peru are traceable to the farm level, and represent both the highest quality and the highest prices paid to the producer.
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 as demand from Europe rose due to a significant decrease in coffee production in Indonesia. British presence and influence in the country 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, the large European-owned landholdings were sold or redistributed throughout the 20th century. 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, 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 have 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.
The Cajamarca region holds a remarkable potential for quality coffee, with ideal growing conditions & great varieties, but quality is often lost in picking, processing & drying, with producers lacking infrastructure & knowledge.
The most vulnerable producers are those that are not members of a cooperative, association or an organisation – they represent 75% of producers in Northern Peru.
These producers don’t have access to training sessions or premiums for quality or certifications, & their income is totally dependent on the market price.
Often, local aggregators – a buyer who lives in the same area – will come to the farm or house of a producer & buy their coffee for cash before selling it on; in some cases, directly to an exporter or more often to other traders and middlemen.
Tragically this results in the producer being paid very little for their coffee & a lot of quality coffee is lost.
Now working directly with the primary producers, they help to improve upon existing bean quality and also have full financial traceability.
They ensure producers actually receive a fair price for the coffee they deliver (above the market price). In order to achieve this they have set up the warehouse in Jaen
This shift in approach to sourcing allows them to forge long term relationships directly with farmers, improve the coffee quality on offer from these areas & increase producer household income through access to quality premiums.