Farm: Agraria Cafetalera Productora Comercial Exportadora Café Andes Amazonicos (PROCECAM)
Varietal: Typica, Pache & Caturra
Processing: Fully washed & dried in greenhouses on raised beds
Altitude: 1,600 to 1,800 metres above sea level
Owner: 12 members of PROCECAM with coffee scoring 84+ points
Town / City: Lonya Grande
Overall: Caramel, milk chocolate, raisins
Andes Amazonicos – DECAF - Peru
This coffee has been decaffed using the CO2 Process.
The coffee producer organisation Productora Comercial Exportadora Café Andes Amazonicos Ltda. (PROCECAM) is a relatively recent addition to the Peruvian Coffee World. Founded in 2014 and formed of 202 small scale coffee producers, all of whom are dedicated to high quality organic production, PROCECAM has taken a leading role in the turn to quality coffee production as a means of improving the livelihoods of those living and working in their area of influence.
PROCECAM members farm a total of 780 hectares, just over 400 of which is given over to coffee. The ancestors of those living in this area of Peru’s Amazonas region have farmed coffee here for more than 200 years and have a breadth and depth of knowledge regarding production that is respectful to nature while oriented towards maintaining yields. Even today, the primary source of income for many living in the region is the production of Arabica coffee. However, due to years of very low prices on international markets and due to the constant barrage of new pests and diseases brought on by climate change, it has increasingly become a struggle to continue investing in production and to engage the new generation. By orienting their coffee to the speciality market, PROCECAM hopes to ensure a future for coffee (and for families in the region) for many years to come.
The name of the organisation (PROCECAM) simply stands for the ‘Coffee Producer Commercial Exporter of Andes Amazonicos Coffee’ (a mouthfeel) but the organisation commercialises their coffee under the name ‘Andes Amazonicos’, descriptive of the area in which the district of Lonya Grande (from which the producer members hail) is located. Members’ farms lie in a section of forest that divides the highlands and the jungle, just along the Marañón River – the principle source of the Amazon. Across the river is the Andes Mountains’ eastern range. Indeed, this ‘Andes Amazonicos’ coffee captures this varying and unique landscape.
All members of PROCECAM are expected to plant their own nurseries using seeds selected from their own small farms. They regularly attend workshops hosted by the organisation on best practices for harvesting, wet processing and drying. Producers are also trained in composting and best practices for transporting coffee to the Coop’s warehouse. PROCECAM agricultural technicians visit all producers annually to help with planning for the coming year, to advise on renovation activities and to ensure that organic certification will be maintained.
Other services provided by PROCECAM to their members include educational workshops in organic production and environmental stewardship. The additional labours that are necessitated by the Cooperative’s high standards are more than compensated by the assurance of a ‘dignified payment’ for all exported coffee. The Cooperative seeks professionalisation in coffee practices, as well, and helps advise on educational opportunities for young people as well as further investing in education surrounding coffee processing – the secret to ever-improved quality.
Renovation of aging trees is one area where PROCECAM is currently intervening to improve quality. Producers throughout the region have sizeable plots of very old Typica trees, some of which are more than 80 years old. PROCECAM leaders want to make sure that this strong genetic material isn’t lost, so they are teaching their members to establish nurseries using some of the best of these ancestral seeds. They are also encouraging Caturra & Pache seed collection and are trialling experimental plantings of Geisha and other varieties in order to contribute to the long-term sustainability of both the producer and the cooperative. These new varieties will be planted at various altitudes and closely monitored to assess their potential at each elevation.
The coop’s goals, of course, don’t come without obstacles. Global warming presents, perhaps, the gravest threat. Producers report prolonged dry periods, unpredictable rain patterns and the increased presence of plagues and illnesses.
Nonetheless, the cooperative is set on progressing with quality in the cup as well as increasing yields. One project to this end is their quality ‘microlot’ program, developed with the help of Mercanta. Once it is submitted to the warehouse, each producer's coffee is visually assessed for defects or irregularly sized beans. Those lots that pass the ‘muster’ will be cupped in a 3rd party cupping lab about an hour from the cooperative’s warehouse. Any lot scoring 84+ by the team of expert cuppers will be consolidated into a unique (and very special) microlot destined for the specialty market. This year’s lot is the combination of the hard work of only12 producers from 4 villages. Mercanta is the sole purchaser of this special ‘Andes Amazonicos’ quality microlot. We have also purchased individual producer lots that are of particularly high quality.
All cooperative members selectively hand harvest their coffee, selecting only the ripest and reddest coffee cherries at each pass. Coffee is processed, in most cases, at the location of harvest. Even in cases where farmers do not live on their parcel of land, they often have a small wet mill located on the land where coffee grows. This enables them to pulp the coffee on the same day as harvesting with minimal damage to cherries, which helps control fermentation.
After pulping, coffee is fermented for between 12 and 20 hours depending on the climate. Most farmers have a fermentation tank (or use buckets) directly at the point of pulping; however, it isn’t unusual in the region for freshly pulped coffee to be emptied into plastic bags and then loaded onto donkeys or mules to be carried to the farmer’s home, where it will be fermented, washed and dried. This practice can inhibit quality, however, and PROCECAM encourages farmers to have their processing infrastructure in the same place.
After fermenting the coffee is fully washed and then delivered to dry on raised beds in greenhouses. This method protects the coffee from rain and humidity and contributes to more even drying.
Producers in Peru cannot always rely on programs of support from their government, and while the National Coffee Board (JNC) has developed some recent programs for innovation and quality improvement, funds are few and far between. These conditions make PROCECAM’s efforts towards quality-driven production all the more impressive. As cooperative members work together to place more and more coffee on speciality markets, Mercanta is looking forward to supporting their efforts by passing word of their work on to our own customers. The proof is, as they say, in the pudding (or in this case in the cup)!