What Makes Peruvian Coffee So Special?

The coffee industry in Peru has a turbulent past. Homegrounds explains that despite the fact that Peru has been cultivating coffee since the 1700s, it has not been recognized as a coffee superpower like Brazil or Colombia. Peru is not as well-known among coffee connoisseurs due, in part, to its relatively poor infrastructure and limited processing methods, which can lead to inconsistent quality.

When coffee prices crashed in the 1990s, Peruvian coffee became even less profitable than it had been previously. As a result, coffee farmers opted for more lucrative crops such as cacao, and political instability and guerrilla warfare made growing coffee for meager profits even less appealing. As the turn of the century approached, it was not difficult to foresee the continued decline of the Peruvian coffee industry. However, according to Driven Coffee Roasters, a number of organizations have invested in coffee-growing regions of Peru, encouraging growers to form cooperatives and promoting Fair Trade coffee. One characteristic distinguishes Peruvian coffee from other growing regions, however.

Delicious coffee beans are cultivated at both low and high altitudes. Even though coffee beans grown at higher altitudes typically receive the most favorable press, Peru’s lower altitude farms can also produce a satisfying cup of coffee. Driven Coffee describes beans grown near Nambale, close to the border between Peru and Ecuador, as having “mild acidity, medium body, and smooth notes of nuts, flowers, and gentle fruit.”

The majority of coffee in Peru is grown organically, not as a marketing strategy, but because that’s how it’s always been done. As ethical importers and exporters of coffee have begun ensuring that organic growing standards are met, more certified organic and Fair Trade beans from Peru have appeared on the market. Cooperatives such as Cenfrocafe, which has 2,000 farmer members, sell beans that are 100 percent Fair Trade, ensuring that their farmers earn a living wage. The majority of coffee farms in Peru are less than seven acres, so co-ops help farmers gain access to processing facilities and scale economies.

Several regions, including Urubamba, Chanchamayo, Quechua, Amazonas, and Cusco, produce exceptional coffee beans in the Andes Mountains. Homegrounds explains that a number of these high-altitude farms produce beans that are wet processed and described as refined, medium-bodied, smooth, and with notes of rich chocolate and nuts. Driven High-altitude coffee from Peru is praised for its “bright acidity, vibrant floral aromas, and rich sweetness.” The artisan roaster elaborates, “These are most likely specialty-grade beans for which we compete with other roasters.”

Even large coffee companies such as Nespresso recognize Peru as a world-class source of premium coffee; in 2015, they released a limited edition Peru Secreto Grand Cru coffee. As you explore the world of coffee, consider incorporating some Peruvian varieties. And if you are adventurous and willing to spend a bit of money, you can try the coati dung coffee made by Chanchamayo Highland Coffee. The sixty coati on Durand’s team consume his high-altitude coffee cherries and excrete the partially fermented beans. Again harvested, the beans are sold for $36 per pound by Durand and $270 per pound by the final vendor.

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