Peruvian Coffee: Everything You Need to Know
Peruvian coffee is often buried under the competition of its many coffee-obsessed South American neighbors.
But the truth is, for decades now the coffee coming from Peru has grown in both quality and quantity. It delivers a smooth, mellow cuppa to help you work, relax, or just to get those eyes open first thing in the morning.
Here’s our take on all things Peruvian coffee.
Tres Cumbres (Volcanica)
If you’re looking for some of the best Peruvian coffee beans on the market, look no further than this option from Volcanica coffee: Tres Cumbres.
Grown right on the slopes of the awe-inspiring Andes Mountains in the Chanchamayo region, these medium roasted beans deliver a complex, full-bodied coffee with light acidity and a bright finish.
Simply put, they are some of the best beans you can find south of the equator.
Must Know Facts About Peruvian Beans
Every coffee culture has its own fascinating twists and turns, and Peru is no exception.
Here are some of the most interesting things about coffee grown in the Land of the Incas!
History of Peruvian Coffee
Coffee was first brought to Peru in the 1700s, and the heirloom Typica variety quickly became the majority coffee plant varietal grown throughout the country.
Towards the end of the 20th century, Peru wasn’t competitive in the coffee market due to a lack of infrastructure and processing methods – a problem that plagues many developing coffee-growing nations in the world today (we’re looking at you, Papua New Guinea (1)!). It is an issue that leads to a maddening inconsistency in quality and can drive potential buyers away in droves.
Years of guerrilla warfare and a focus on crops like cacao compounded the infrastructure problem and distracted from any genuine coffee-farming potential. And to make things even worse, these issues were only exacerbated when coffee prices crashed in the 1990s (2).
However, since the turn of the century, the Peruvian coffee farmers – along with many other nations that suffered through the crisis – picked themselves up by their bootstraps and rebuilt what they had lost.
Since this rebuilding movement began, there has been a refocusing on developing better quality coffee by tapping into the immeasurable potential that is naturally present in the soil and climate of Peruvian coffee farms.
Government involvement, along with the support and guidance of private groups, has helped to bring direction and momentum to this rehabilitation and has helped to successfully revitalize the coffee industry. In fact, Peruvian beans are now considered world class (along with the other choices on this list).
You can hear a great breakdown of the condition of the recent history of coffee in Peru here.
Peruvian Coffee Characteristics
If you’ve ever wondered, “is Peruvian coffee good?” you can rest assured, this is some of the best coffee on the market today.
Most Peruvian coffee beans tend to be mellow and pleasant with a mild acidity and a light body. It’s the definition of a good South American coffee. Nevertheless, they are anything but bland, coming with exciting flavor profiles that can vary from one crop to the next but are all a delight to the senses.
Organic, You Say?
As is the case in many similar countries with a more traditional form of farming, a large portion of Peruvian coffee has always been grown organically. This wasn’t necessarily for a certification, but rather because they didn’t have access to chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the first place!
Now, thanks to a number of exporters and importers who have taken the time to ensure that many of the farms meet organic standards, there is quite a bit of certified Peruvian organic coffee available on the market, as well as Peruvian Fair Trade beans.
This uptick in the quantity of certified organic, Fair Trade, and otherwise certifiably ethical coffees is also largely due to the rise of cooperatives that have helped the smaller farms get much fairer prices for their beans.
Joining together under the classic concept that there is strength in numbers, these cooperatives now include as many as a quarter of the smaller farmers, allowing them to demand decent treatment and to make a fair wage for their hard work.
And, of course, the good news for all of us on the outside looking in is that this increase in quality methods leads to higher quality beans!
Major Growing Regions and Their Beans
There are many types of Peruvian coffee beans, and their quality can range from milder, bulk options to a variety of bright, vibrant, higher-end choices.
The high altitudes, tropical climate, and fertile soil all mean Peru is just plain great at growing coffee, so even their more run of the mill crops can be contenders for your morning cuppa.
That said, here are some of the major coffee-growing regions and the beans that come from them.
Urubamba beans are the market name for coffee grown in the southern regions of the country near the famous locations of Cusco and Machu Picchu. These beans from the Sacred Valley (3) are typically wet processed, are very smooth, and have an enchanting aroma.
Beans from the Chanchamayo Valley (4) are amongst the highest quality in the entire country. They’re grown on the eastern side of the imposing heights of the Andes Mountains, on the edge of the Amazon basin a few hundred miles from Lima,
The beans are typically wet processed and tend to have a light to medium body and a mild to bright acidity. They also tend to be grown at very high altitudes and are often organic.
A cup of Chanchamayo coffee is refined in character. Medium bodied and smooth to drink, it carries both richer chocolate and nutty qualities, as well as a bright, sweet, citrusy presence that is there from the first olfactory whiff to the final satisfying aftertaste.
A cup of coffee from this region is about as balanced as it gets.
While Peru is brimming over with quality coffees, there are some beans that stand out more than others…
One coffee that deserves a specific shout out is Quechua coffee from Peru’s remote Puno region. Why? Because it’s the Best Quality Coffee in the world! Seriously… it won the award by that name at the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle!
Coming from a region that has serious coffee woes, and in which many farmers are closing up shop due to the difficulty of turning a profit, Quechua coffee has proven that if the logistics can be figured out, some of the best beans in the world truly can be grown in the region.
One other coffee that we need to mention here is Capis coffee (5). Much like Kopi Luwak, Black Ivory, and other poop coffees, this java is produced by harvesting undigested coffee beans from the feces of the coati, a critter related to the North American raccoon. The exorbitantly expensive coffee is a dung-loving rarity that remains in the reach of only the most well-off coffee snobs… did we say snobs? We mean enthusiasts.
The Current State of the Peruvian Coffee Industry
The current outlook of Peru’s coffee world seems bright, as the country’s coffee industry has progressed positively towards both healthy production and high-quality beans.
There are well over 100,000 coffee farmers in Peru (6), many of whom are growing traditional, shade grown, Arabica beans that are quickly becoming well-respected on the international market.
Many of these small, micro-lot farmers wet process their coffee using an infrastructure system that has improved the quality of the nation’s bean output since the dark days of the coffee crisis.
The additional rise of coffee cooperatives has created a dramatic change in the quantity of both organic and Fair Trade coffee beans being produced.
With Peruvian coffee production growing by leaps and bounds (7) in recent years, the nation is positioned to give its neighboring coffee-producing giants Columbia and Brazil a run for their money, especially with the specialty coffee and organic markets already in their back pocket.
Where to Buy Peruvian Coffee Beans
If all of this talk about how amazing their coffee is has you wondering where to buy Peruvian coffee, we don’t blame you. However, before you go picking up just any old bag of beans, you want to know which Peruvian coffee brands are good ones.
So, without further ado, here are our suggestions for some of the best Peruvian coffees out there.
|Tres Cumbres – Peru Coffee (Volcanica)||
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|Out of the Grey Peru La Florida||
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|Higher Grounds Peruvian Pangoa||
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1. Tres Cumbres (Volcanica Coffee)
Roast level: Medium
- Region: Chanchamayo
- Tasting notes: Lemongrass, plum, nougat
- Whole bean or ground: Both
One of the high-end coffee industry leaders, Volcanica Coffee provides the comfort of knowing that you’re getting an excellent cup of coffee that has been painstakingly sourced from farms growing their coffee in fertile volcanic soil.
In this case, we’re going to specifically suggest Volcanica’s Peruvian Coffee “Tres Cumbres.” Sourced from the Chanchamayo region and grown right on the slopes of the Andes, these medium roasted beans deliver a complex, full-bodied coffee with light acidity and a bright finish.
2. Out of the Grey Peru La Florida
Roast level: Medium-dark
- Region: Chanchamayo
- Tasting notes: Almond, dark chocolate, molasses
- Whole bean or ground: Both
If sustainability is important to you when buying coffee (as it should be), this coffee from Out of the Grey should be on your shopping list. It’s certified bird-friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, which means the coffee is grown on land that provides sufficient natural foliage to support birdlife and improve biodiversity.
The beans, from the La Florida cooperative in Chanchamayo, are also classified AA grade and Strictly High Grown. Out of the Grey roastery has opted for a medium-dark roast, which brings out the deeper flavors of nuts and chocolate with a molasses sweetness
3. Higher Grounds Peruvian Pangoa
Roast level: Medium
- Region: Satipo
- Tasting notes: Sage, chocolate
- Whole bean or ground: Both
One of the lesser-known growing regions in Peru is Satipo, which sits alongside Chanchamayo. This lush, mountainous area is known as the “jungle entrance”, and produces high-quality coffees in limited quantities.
Since 1977 the Pango cooperative has supported coffee and cocoa farmers in the area to access the international market while maintaining sustainable and socially responsible growing practices.
These particular beans have been grown at altitudes up to 6,200 feet, wash processed, and sun-dried. The medium-dark roast (done to order), brings out the deep chocolatey notes of the coffee along with aromatic herby sage.
Pairing: The Best Way to Roast and Brew Peruvian Beans
If you’re a DIY coffee expert, you’re probably looking to roast up some Peruvian beans yourself, and we’ve got some tips on how to handle these beans to help you get started.
First off, a quick note on making your own blend.
The overall mildness of these coffees – a characteristic of many of the coffees of the region – makes them excellent prospects for a good coffee blend, as the gentleness of the beans won’t dominate others they might be mixed with.
With that said, whether you’re creating your own blend or allowing this delightful single origin to stand on its own, Peruvian beans tend to be excellent candidates for a medium or even a dark roast (8), with their subtleness being able to handle the more intense depths of the darker roasting process.
For example, the highly regarded Cafe Tunki beans highlighted in the previous section are darkly roasted, though not excessively so. The dark roast is done to a level that is just enough to bring out the natural components of the flavor profile and the floral aroma.
Peruvian beans are versatile. Their gentle, unassuming flavor profile makes them perfect candidates for a host of brewing options. Our official suggestion for these gentle beans is to take a dark roast and use it for either a drip coffee, Chemex or other filter option, or go right for an espresso.
The easy drinking aspect of a smooth, relaxing cup of Peruvian coffee also makes it an excellent candidate for milk or cream, if that’s your thing!
Disfruta De Tu Café, Amigo Mío! (Enjoy Your Coffee, My Friend!)
So, if you ever find yourself hiking up Machu Picchu, remember that you’re looking at one of the best high-altitude coffee-growing countries in the world.
Peruvian coffee beans gently deliver a cup of coffee that is both mild and simultaneously exploding with a subtext of floral, nutty, chocolate, and citrusy flavors to keep you satisfied no matter what the occasion.
If you like the idea of Peruvian coffee, please let us know your thoughts below!
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- Coffee Origin Spotlight: Papua New Guinea’s Specialty Coffee | Perfect Daily Grind Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/09/coffee-origin-spotlight-papua-new-guineas-specialty-coffee/
- The Coffee Crisis — Coffee & Conservation Retrieved from https://www.coffeehabitat.com/2006/02/the_coffee_cris/
- Sacred Valley Peru – Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chincheros, Maras, Moray Retrieved from https://www.machupicchu.org/sacred_valley_peru.htm
- Peru Chanchamayo SHB Organic · InterAmerican Coffee Retrieved From https://www.interamericancoffee.com/peru-pichanaki-shb-organic/
- Peruvian coffee growers harvest dung for golden profits – Reuters Retrieved From https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-coffee/peruvian-coffee-growers-harvest-dung-for-golden-profits-idUSBRE8B20ZJ20121203
- Peru has pinned its hopes on Fairtrade coffee – will it be rewarded? | Intelligence.coffee Retrieved from https://intelligence.coffee/2022/12/peru-fairtrade-coffee-pinned-hopes/
- Peru coffee harvest to rise 13 percent this year: industry group – Reuters Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-coffee/peru-coffee-harvest-to-rise-13-percent-this-year-industry-group-idUSKCN1B42I5
- Coffees from the Americas: Peru | CoffeeReview.com Retrieved from https://www.coffeereview.com/coffee-reference/coffee-categories/geographic-origins/coffees-from-the-americas/peru/