Farm: Finca La Curva
Varietal: 100% Typica
Processing: Fully washed & dried in greenhouses on raised beds
Altitude: 1,600 to 1,700 metres above sea level
Owner: Jose Reybar
Town / City: Total size of farms: 1 hectareArea under coffee: 1 hectare
Region: Suiza, Lonya Grande
Finca La Curva Microlot - Peru
Jose Reybar is a member of the coffee producer organisation, Productora Comercial Exportadora Café Andes Amazonicos Ltda. (PROCECAM). 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, the organisation 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. Jose’s farm – La Curva (The Curve) - covers just a single hectare extending from 1,600 to 1,700 metres above sea level. His farm is 100% Typica – not that unusual in this area – and he is regarded as one of the top producers in the cooperative due to his adherence to all the ‘best practices’ endorsed by the cooperative. His effort can be tasted, certainly, in the end product of his production. His production is minimal (only 30-35 bags per year) but on the whole excellent.
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.
Jose prepares his own compost and conducts all weed control by hand, in accordance with organic farm management certification regulations. His small farm is 100% under shade – mostly eucalyptus and fruit trees – and is cared for with the utmost respect for the environment.
Jose selectively hand harvests his coffee, as do all cooperative members, selecting only the ripest and reddest coffee cherries at each pass. He then pulps his coffee at the ‘parcela’ (parcel – or name for a small farm) into a small, tile-lined tub where he then ferments the coffee for between 12 and 20 hours depending on the weather at the time. After the coffee is fully fermented, it is washed in clean water and then delivered to dry on raised wooden beds constructed of bamboo and wood, erected under plastic sheeting. This method, while somewhat rustic, protects the coffee from rain and humidity and contributes to more even drying.
PROCECAM regularly hosts workshops 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, CL26 and CL27 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, and we have also purchased individual producer lots (such as Jose’s) that are of particularly high quality.
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)!