Peru is one of the largest coffee producers in the world. Despite its status, many don't know just how important Peru is in the coffee industry. It was one of the first countries in the Americas to get coffee plants and they're now known for producing some of the world's greatest beans.
Peru has such a rich history in coffee—read on to find out how they grew to produce so much of the world's coffee and what Peruvian coffee actually tastes like!
The History of Peruvian Coffee
Peru began growing coffee in the 1700's. Up until the 1800's, coffee was enjoyed locally. Most European countries at this time were exporting coffee from Asia, specifically Indonesia and countries surrounding it. In the late 1800's, after an unfortunate disease epidemic in southeast Asia, European exporters started looking for a new country to export coffee from and turned to Peru. In the 1900's, Europe invested in the Peruvian coffee industry to export and scale coffee beans to fulfill the increasing demand.
However, once World War 1 came, Europeans who had invested in Peruvian coffee sold their land. Peru coffee farmers were left without infrastructure to sell their beans on a large scale. This led to rampant undercharging and exploitation of coffee farmers, by intermediary buyers, who became disconnected with the end beverage of coffee. Then, came the introduction of co-op farms. (Source)
Co-Ops and Peruvian Coffee
Co-op farms are producer and user-owned businesses that are controlled by and operate for their members, rather than for outside investors. When a farmer joins a cooperative, they benefit through earnings returned on a patronage basis. For example, a farmer-member who accounts for 10 percent of the volume of milk delivered to the cooperative would receive 10 percent of the net earnings derived from the handling, processing, marketing and sale of that milk or related products. (Source) Co-ops benefit both the farmer and members because it's less risky, they gain more income, and stay competitive in the market.
Within the last decade, Peru’s co-ops consolidated their movements and "provided a more organized and rewarding opportunity for tens of thousands of smallholders who were once subjected to exploitive trading practices." (Source) Now, approximately 15 to 20% of Peru's coffee farmers belong to co-ops that link with organizations like Fair Trade to stimulate their growth. The higher prices offered through these markets help the co-ops stay competitive. Co-ops also offer a collective sense of identity, the ability to control their means of production, and training that helps farmers grow long-term.
While co-ops have helped bridge the gap between producer and coffee as we know it, climate change is impacting Peruvian coffee farms at an alarming rate. Watch the video below to learn more:
What Does Peruvian Coffee Taste Like?
Peruvian coffee tastes slightly different depending where in Peru it's grown. For example, lower-altitude farms usually produce coffee with a mild acidity, medium body, and notes of nuts, flowers, and fruit. Higher altitude farms produce coffee with bright acidity, vibrant floral aromas, and a rich sweetness, which is what most specialty coffee roasters look for in Peruvian coffee. (Source)
Once you go high into the Andes, like to farms surrounding Cusco and Machu Picchu, the coffee begins to feature a bright acidity, vibrant floral aromas, and a rich sweetness. These are more likely to be specialty-grade beans, and the ones we fight other roasters for.
Here at Bean and Bean Coffee, our Peruvian coffee has tasting notes of tangerine, peach, caramel, offering a perfectly ripe fruit with a velvety caramel surprise! We source our Peru coffee from the progressive Cooperativa Agraria Frontera San Ignacio (COOPAFSI). Established in 1969, this cooperative has been championing gender equality and prides itself on promoting 100% women powered coffee. Every bag purchased helps close the gender gap in coffee by supporting women owned farms!