Buenas tardes everyone, George Cox here, back from Peru and stoked to be sharing my trip report with you all.
This was my first ever origin trip, and I’m beyond chuffed that Peru was the first place I was able to check out. As many of you will know, Peru is one of our strongest origins; we have a warehouse in Jaen which we established in 2018 to vertically integrate ourselves into the supply chain. Jaen is a dusty, noisy ‘coffee town’ where smallholder farmers from the Cajamarca region and beyond travel to in order to sell their coffee. Each day, fleets of Toyota Hilux trucks descend upon the town, the vehicles overflowing with bags of coffee in dried cherry and parchment form. The team at Falcon Coffees Peru do an incredible job of taking samples from each bag, milling and roasting the samples, and cupping them within 24 hours to give the farmer a price for their coffee right away. Jaen acted as the perfect jumping off point to visit heaps of smallholder farmers in the area who regularly bring their coffee into the warehouse. Without further ado, let’s get out into the field!
On our first day we headed up and out of Jaen to Finca El Diamanté run by Elmer and his son Elvis Tineo Rafael. Great guys with a beautiful farm brimming with every kind of fruit and coffee varietal. I was really impressed with Elvis Tineo’s knowledge and innovation in coffee processing and use of these different varietals. He’s very keen to do what he can to make his coffee the best in the country. The Cup of Excellence competition is super important to Elvis, and he talked with passion on the various fermentation stages he’s been experimenting with. He explained that “We have a competition here in Peru between the north and the south, to see who takes first position in the CoE”. He declared with confidence that this year he would “come out on top!”, and seeing his attention to detail and temperature-controlled drying of the natural Geisha he had in his solar drier, I feel confident Elvis will be adding another Cup of Excellence trophy to his shelf this year. Best of luck Elvis and Elmer!
[Below – Elmer Tineo Rafael]
The following day we headed north of Jaen to visit the farm and family of Arturo who works with us at the Falcon warehouse. Two hours from Jaen in the car you hit the district of San Ignacio. You’re at cloud level at this point, and then once you break out of the cloud layer you have another two hours of climbing into the mountains of La Coipa where Finca La Libertad resides. The views at this sort of altitude are just incredible, and one of my favourite things about Peru is just how dramatic the terroir is.
Arturo and his father-in-law David took us on a hike around the farm, up steep slopes and across fast flowing streams, all the while pointing out patches of different varietals which they could identify from a mile away. These farmers knew every inch of their farm, what works and what doesn’t, and are constantly innovating.
What struck us about this farm is just how much the younger generation of farmers are keen to drive quality- Arturo showed us sections of old catimor trees that will soon be ripped up to plant geisha and pink and yellow bourbon varietals instead. Through trial and error, the family have found a washed process to work much better on this farm than naturals, and I can’t wait to taste the pink bourbon lot coming through over the next few years. Watch this space!
The family prepared us a delicious meal of yucca, rice, tortilla and stew (some of the best food we had on the trip), then we were shown the various stages of processing cherry at La Libertad. Again, incredible attention to detail and innovative processing. Bags of coffee at the farm are pulped and fermented for several days before being spread out on the patio to dry.
I brought an Aerobie frisbee out with me, and one of the highlights of the trip was standing in a circle flinging the flying disc between us in the afternoon sun on the drying patio. The farmers were a bit sheepish to start, but one by one they joined the circle and made a few tentative throws; before long they had the knack, and were grinning from ear to ear as they caught long-distance throws. Of course in typical Peruvian style, just when we were thinking of making a move, David whipped out a bottle of his homemade spirit called caña, distilled from sugarcane from the farm. It’s customary to pour yourself a generous measure of the spirit, then pass the bottle on to the next victim until everyone is bleary eyed and stumbling back to the Hilux. Needless to say we slept well on the four-hour journey back!
[Below – David Guevara Armijos]
Roger has 3 hectares of coffee himself (mainly yellow and red Caturra), but he works with his family and neighbouring farmers to supply us with heaps of 85-87 scoring coffee. Whilst each family member owns their own land, Roger manages the picking, processing and drying of the coffee with a real eye for quality. We were able to see first-hand why Roger’s coffee is so consistently delicious- cherry is fermented overnight, depulped, and fermented again in bags for 24-36 hours and monitored constantly. This fermentation gives the coffee some lovely fruit notes which compliment the bright acidity of the Caturrra grown way up at 1900 metres. I’ve been a huge fan of Roger’s coffee for several years now, and it was awesome to finally meet him in person and share a meal. He even brewed us a coffee from some of his recently harvested coffee, and it was super surreal to be drinking a brew amongst the very trees from which the beans came.
[Below – – The Chilcon Family. From front to back you have Roger, (his father) Daniel, then (his brother]
It’s no secret that we love to have people come along with us to origin. On this trip I was lucky enough to be joined by our friends and partners from The Clubhouse Coffee & Cycles, The Milk Shed and Wolfox Coffee Roasters. If ever you’re keen to join us on an origin trip, be sure to sing out! We can give you an idea of travel dates and expected costs, and with global travel restrictions easing we generally have someone from the team planning a trip or travelling about in any of the origin counties we source from. We’ll have more info coming your way over the next few months about our travel plans for 2023, so stay tuned.
Huge thanks for reading, George Cox signing off.