Farm: La Peña, El Bosque, El Campo, La Viña, El Cerro, La Laguna & El Palto
Varietal: Typica, red caturra, catuai, pache & bourbon
Processing: Fully washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,900 metres above sea level
Owner: Joaquin Celestino Pongo Farceque & Homero Cubas Díaz
Town / City: Cayayuc - Cutervo
Overall: Floral, mandarin orange, vanilla, peach
Cayayuc, Cutervo - Peru
Every year, Mercanta send a member of the team out to Peru to select the very best lots of new crop to add to our offering. This 2019 lot was produced by a number of farmers, all of whom reside in the province of Cutervo.
Like so many in this region, the names of each farm are chosen in honour of trees or natural features on the farm that stand out among the wilderness. This is often the case in the region. Farm names will be symbolic, referring to characterisable trees or features that help distinguish the farm. Profit from coffee farming is often small; however, families in the region have created a living for themselves and their families, relying almost solely upon coffee for income. Although other produce is grown, coffee cultivation is often the sole means of income, with all other fruits of their labour reserved for personal consumption.
The farmers for this particular lot belong to the producer organisation Green Cup. Green Cup specialises in collecting the top coffees from the towns of La Coipa, Cutervo and Huabal; located to the north of the Cajamarca department. Green Cup works to support these farmers, offering consultancy, commercial assistance and a link between small coffee farmers and larger organisations. Their mission is to contribute to the sustainable development of producers by offering specialised advice in the improvement of agricultural practices, as well as promoting organic culture and fair trade. During the year, Green Cup visit farms and offer workshops on topics such as how to build increased capacity; as well as offering specialist support for women in coffee, or those struggling to work and raise children.
In the region, much of the drive to produce quality can be seen via the level of attention to processing. Varieties are selected to suit the climate and also to produce an excellent cup profile. This is either by sharing varieties between farms or by buying new varieties from other parts of the country and testing their quality. Producers are also trained in renovation techniques and each has a nursery that they have seeded themselves.
Pruning takes place at the end of each harvest in order to ensure productivity and plant health. Farms work in 12-year rotations focusing on each variety individually. When a plant reaches the end of its 12-year life cycle, it will be dramatically cut back; either by ‘El Descope’ (to take off the top part of the tree, allowing for new growth at the bottom) or ‘Zoqueo’ (cutting the stems back to just 30 centimetres from the ground, in order to stimulate the emergence of new stems). In preparation for this event, trees of the same variety are planted two years in advance, meaning there is an uninterrupted supply of mature cherry.
Soil analysis is regularly conducted with fertiliser applied in March and after the harvest in November. The fertiliser is made up of a mix of compost and ‘guano de las islas’, meaning guano from the islands. Located just off the coast of Peru are a collection of small islands, home to large sea bird populations. These birds produce large amounts of excrement, or, guano, which settles on the ground as a nutrient-rich top layer. Guano is collected on the island and transported to the mainland to be used as a fertiliser.
Coffee processing techniques in the region are tried and tested methods of production, often passed down through the generations. Harvest season for La Coipa spans from June to October. The process begins with the cherries being selectively handpicked, before being sorted by hand into ripe and overripe. Next, the coffee is pulped: each producer has their own de pulper located on the farm, often close to the house. Once the coffee has been depulped, the beans are placed in a wet fermentation tank for around 30 hours, depending on the climate. Finally, the coffee is washed three times, before being placed on raised beds to dry for around a month (25-30 days) depending on the level of rain.
Joaquin and Homero work together with the families who own the farms (many of whom are their parents and siblings) to help manage the collection of the parchment coffee and transport it to the town of Jaén. This is as due to the location of Cayayuc, high levels of rain can be experienced; causing the cherries to over ripen and fall from the tree too quickly. By allowing Joaquin and Homero to manage transport, the farms can focus on picking cherry, instead of having to travel to the Jaen. Once in Jaen, Joaquin and Homero meet with Green Cup to collect the coffee.