Peruvian Coffee: Everything You Need to Know
Peruvian coffee is often buried under the competition of its many coffee-obsessed South-American neighbours.
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.
Clumsy Goat Fairtrade Premium
One of our favourite coffees. They offer speciality coffee and are a a 100% Fair-trade certified.
Their Peruvian selection is of caramel and sweet chocolate flavour. Sounds delicious.
Must Know Facts About Peru Coffee
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!
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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 flavour 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 (3) 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 (4) are typically wet processed, are very smooth, and have an enchanting aroma.
Beans from the Chanchamayo Valley (5) 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 Speciality 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 (6). Much like Kopi Luwak, Black Ivory, and other poop coffees, this java is produced by harvesting undigested coffee beans from the faeces 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 (7), 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 (8) in recent years, the nation is positioned to give its neighbouring coffee-producing giants Columbia and Brazil a run for their money, especially with the speciality 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.
Union coffee works on a Direct Trade model, forming strong relationships with smallholders in key coffee growing regions. These beans are grown by a collection of 36 small farms known as Chirinos, in the high elevations of Balcones in the north of the country.
Chirinos grows a mix of Bourbon, Caturra and Typica beans in a very compost-rich soil, which are then wash-processed. Here it’s resulted in a somewhat unusually sweet and syrupy coffee that makes it a godsend for those of us who like to take our coffee with milk. In the cup you’ll get plenty of sweet flavours like red apple, sticky toffee and raspberry jam. It works great as a filter brew too.
This small-batch roaster is becoming one of our favourites. Not only do they have a good line in speciality beans like Honduran or Ethiopian Sidano, but all of their roasts are also 100% Fair Trade certified.
This 100% Arabica mix comes from the Puno, Tambopata and Inambari regions high in the Andes. Most plants here are shade-grown, resulting in a sweeter tasting coffee. Clumsy Goat have made this selection especially for lazy mornings, with flavours of walnut, caramel and milk chocolate to gently wake you.
This family-run roaster from Devon is all about the artisanal touch, roasting their beans entirely by hand in small batches. They deal with 100% Arabica beans only, some selected for their ever-
changing coffee subscription, and others added to their list of single-origin beans or espresso blends.
This mix of Bourbon, Caturra, Mundo Novo and Typica varietals is grown on the edge of protected natural areas at altitudes of up to 1890m. After harvesting, the beans go through an unusual fermenting process – in sturdy wooden tanks made from Romillero trees. The result is a smooth drinking coffee with flavour notes of caramel and baked apple.
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 (9), 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 flavour profile and the floral aroma.
Peruvian beans are versatile. Their gentle, unassuming flavour 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 flavours 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 (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.machupicchu.org/sacred_valley_peru.htm
- 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-organic-shb-chanchamayo/
- 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
- History of Coffee in Peru | Equal Exchange Retrieved from https://equalexchange.coop/history-of-coffee-in-peru
- 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/