Farm: El Guayaquil
Varietal: Red Caturra & Pache
Processing: Fully washed & dried on patios
Altitude: 1850 metres above sea level
Owner: Evaristo Neira Cordova
Town / City: Barro Negro, La Coipa
Overall: Plum, raspberry, white chocolate
Evaristo Neyra – Organic - Peru
Nearly every year, Mercanta send a member of the team to Peru to select the very best lots of new crop to add to our offering. Unfortunately this year, due to COVID-19, this was not possible. With one of the highest COVID rates in the world, our partner in the region, Alpes Andinos, has faced untold pressures at exporting their lots this year. Not only has Eric and the team at Alpes Andinos faced the usual problems of rust and untimely rains, but nationwide restrictions and curfews have also made coordinating it’s 115+ members even more difficult. However, with great effort, we are proud to be offering some truly fantastic coffees from the region this year, thanks to Eric and his team.
Through extensive cupping, Evaristo Neira Cordova’s farm El Guayaquil has been singled out as one of the top lots from the region this year. Located on the slopes of El Mirador, Evaristo’s farm is located in the mountain village Barro Negro, La Copia, around 1.5 hours from the association’s headquarters in Jaen; high in Peru’s Cajamarca department. Evaristo has lived in Barro Negro all of his life. After inheriting El Guayaquil 8 years ago from his father, today aged just 25, Evaristo resides with his wife and 7-year-old son. The name El Guayaquil, is in reference to the bamboo trees found on the farm. Like many other farms in the region, the name is symbolic, reflecting the distinguishing characteristics in the surrounding area. Coffee production is Evaristo’s primary means of income, with any fruit trees or other produce grown reserved only for personal consumption.
Situated at 1850 meters above sea level, Evaristo’s lot is made up of local varieties, Red Caturra & Pache; both of which thrive at high altitudes. Consistent ‘selective’ tree pruning is conducted to maintain the quality of the crop and to increase its yield. Farmers work in 15-year rotations, focusing on each variety individually. When a plant reaches the end of its 15-year life cycle, it will be dramatically cut back using the ‘Zoqueo’ practice. This sees the tree cut back to the stem just 30 centimetres from the ground, stimulating the emergence of new growth. 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. For Fertiliser, Evaristo uses a mixture 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.
Evaristo’s harvest spans from June to September. Coffee processing techniques in the region are tried and tested methods of production, often passed down through the generations. The process begins with the cherries being selectively handpicked, before being floated in cool clean water to remove any low-density cherries. Evaristo harvests his crop with the help of his brother, Wilmer, as well as his brother in law. In turn, Evaristo in turn helps his family on their farms when it is time to pick and process their coffee. Once picked and floated, the coffee is left to ferment for 12 hours overnight in its cherry. Next day, the coffee is pulped: each producer has their own de pulper located on the farm, often close to the house or main building.
Once the coffee has been de-pulped, the beans are placed into sacks with grain pro liners to induce a dry fermentation for around 24 hours, depending on the climate. The coffee is then washed three times using water from the mountain, to remove all remaining mucilage. Next, any excess water is drained, before finally placing the beans on raised beds to dry. Here, the beans will remain for around 15-20 days, depending on the level of rain.
After making sure that the coffee is dry, the beans are stored in polypropylene bags to preserve their quality and avoid any contamination during storage or transport to the association's warehouse in Jaen. Once delivered to the association’s warehouse, coffees are screened for quality, before being prepped for export.