Peru is known for it’s many architectural treasures and the legendary Inca civilization. Manco Cápac, the founder of the Incas, was said to have received a golden staff from the sun god, Inti, which would sink into the earth in the place his people were supposed to build a grand temple. That temple was in the city of Cusco and although the Spanish destroyed it when they captured Peru, the Cusco and the surrounding area still hold many treasures, one of which is some of the nation’s best coffee,
While Peru’s coffee sector has improved tremendously in the past decade, we had to search a little more extensively than we typically do to find a coffee that supported our values. It’s important to us that coffees are not just specialty, but that they are special. We want each month to be a distinct experience for you, we want the coffee to be an exemplary example of the nation and region’s coffee, and we want your money to support farmers and the incredible work they do.
Peru has many natural advantages, chief among them may be their soaring elevations. Coffee plants that grow at higher elevations have to struggle a bit to grow. This creates lactic acid which makes the coffee cherries more flavorful. While elevation isn’t the only thing that contributes to quality coffee, it can certainly be an advantage. Brazil, the world’s largest supplier of coffee and neighbor to Peru, has none of these elevations but it’s easier to find coffee with high cup scores there. Peru as a nation has focused largely on supplying certified Organic and Fair Trade coffee which gives them a market advantage. Unfortunately, the majority of these coffees are still commodity level quality, which doesn’t support farmers and doesn’t excite discerning coffee drinkers. The world is getting better every day though and the Valle Inca Cooperative is living proof.
The coffee community near Cusco is strong and we anticipate seeing more and more roasters discover the wonderful coffees in this region in the next few years. One of the area’s many treasures is the Valle Inca Cooperative. We loved everything about them from their operations to their coffee. A cooperative is only as strong as its leadership and Valle Inca is fortunate to have Jose Prudencio Saenz Vargas at its helm, a former bank officer whose heart pumps coffee. Prudencio has been relentless in pursuit of higher cup scores and getting a better price for his farmers. These initiatives have attracted the attention of others in the area and Valle Inca now represents more than 100 farmers.
The coffee we selected for this month is from a small group of Valle Inca’s farmers and it was one of those coffees where we knew after one sip that we wanted to source it. Throughout the sip you’ll taste the sweetness of honey, meringue, and citrus. Despite its notes, it’s also got a very traditional flavor profile that represents what people typically expect from a South American coffee. The coffee is pretty versatile. It shines as pour over, French Press, cold brew, and is surprising as espresso. Though it’s a tad sharper than what we’d typically choose for espresso by itself, it is intensely sweet which makes the experience both unusual and enjoyable. Chase it with a little water and you’ll be be quite satisfied. Use it in a milk-based espresso drink and the flavor notes will sing.
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sweet and complex
honey, citrus, meringue
1700 – 2000 meters
Lot Size: 2484kg, Cup Score: 87.6
Valle Inca Cooperative
Yanatile Valley, Calca, Cusco
Relationship Established: 2021
Green: $11.03/kg, FOB: $6.39/kg, Import $.61/kg
Transportation: $.50/kg, Production: $8.973/kg
Fair Trade Price: $3.09/kg
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Photo of Pisac, Cusco, Peru by Jan Beck