In the biodiverse Andean highlands of Northern Peru, bordering Ecuador, neighbouring smallholders Ismael and Leonilda are producing exemplary, heirloom variety coffee.
Producer: Ismael Alarcon Mirez and Leonilda Cotrina Herrera
Region: La Palma, Querocoto District, Province of Chota, Cajamarca, Peru
Farms: La Palmera, La Pina, La Laurel, La Naranja
Cultivar: Caturra, Mundo Novo, Pache, Typica and Catimor
Process: Fully Washed
Altitude: 1750 to 1850m asl
Meticulous processing sets these beans apart. Ripe cherries benefit from selective hand-picking in several passes, and further sorting to improve quality. Crucially, cherries are pulped on the day of picking, by mechanical pulper on farm itself. This is still unusual for Peru, where many mills are located far from farms (and as coffee cherries are supremely perishable, any delay in processing them after harvest can lead to undesirable flavours in the cup). After controlled fermentation in a tin tank, the beans are washed with fresh water, and dried on raised African beds, where they are turned often to ensure even drying.
Leonilda and Ismael are both members of 'Finca Santuario SA', a newly-established cooperative, whose mission statement is to share knowledge and resources, and to improve cup quality. The name 'Santuario' is a nod to the nearby Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary. The cooperative's practices honour and protect the incredible biodiversity of the area, where páramo and montane eco-systems coexist, and animals abound (highlights include the spectacled bear, the Venezuelan red howler and the Andean cock of the rock). Leonilda and Ismael also cultivate palm trees, pineapples, oranges and laurel on their farms to encourage biodiversity. Santuario uses organic fertilisation and pest control to maintain soil quality and guard against leaf rust, a blight which has hit Peru hard, wiping out a significant percentage of the crop in 2013/14.
We've roasted this lot to bring out thick, nutty flavours of cashew and blanched almonds, the sweetness of milk chocolate, and a delicate white grape acidity with a stewed apple finish, and chamomile top notes.