Complete Guide to Peruvian Coffee

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Complete Guide to Peruvian Coffee

The world can primarily be split into two kinds of people. Those who need to know everything there is to know about anything that they put on or in their body. And those that don’t really give a damn about any of it at all. For those who care, the place of origin of a particular product or produce, is often considered as a stamp of quality and a guarantee of flavour. A walk down coffee aisle at your local supermarket can often feel like a world tour for your taste-buds with beans from places like Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India and others. There is however a tiny country often overlooked. Peru is the world’s seventh largest coffee exporter. Yet the Peruvian coffee community rarely mentions its contribution.

We’re here to rectify that error!

Introduction to Peruvian Coffee

Machu Picchu

Peru is a country best known for its history, culture, adorable alpacas, the Amazon jungle, and off course Machu Picchu. Coffee found its roots in Peru, quite literally, in the early to mid seventeen hundreds. It sadly took more than a hundred and fifty years from then, before it began to be distributed and appreciated all across the world. The country’s varied landscape offers it a chance to experience the entire weather spectrum spaced throughout the year. 

Peru’s biggest contribution towards the coffee community of the world is Arabica coffee beans. This has resulted in the country now holding the number five slot in the world ranking of export of Arabica beans. The coffee farms flourishing in the hilly parts of the country near Machu Picchu and Cusco yield beans bursting with a flurry of sweet rich flavour that carries a delectable flowery fragrance. The milder produce of Peru is offered up by the farms that call the low lying areas their home. A visit there will offer up beans with lighter acidity that delicately balance out a mixture of fruit, flower and nuts. Once ready for harvest, the berries are hand picked by hard workers and sun dried. At last count, the country has a whopping 100,000 coffee farmers, and the trade has given rise to close to 855,000 jobs in the country.

Season

Peruvian Coffee fruits are perfect for picking up for harvest from June to September and generally arrives in the US market as early as October.

Characteristics

Though Peruvian coffee has a host of variants, but the most common are subdivided into two regions. The lower altitude farms produce beans with mild acidity, is medium bodied, has light floral aroma and fruity notes.

When we move up to higher altitudes,  into the farms surrounding the areas of Cusco and Machu Picchu, the beans will feature crisp and brighter acidity along with vibrant floral aroma and some distinct sweetness. These beans are classified as high grade ones

Origin

Peru is among the prime countries that started coffee production in the mid of 1700. It all begin by bringing the crop from it’s neighbor Ecuador for it’s domestic consumption. Until 1800, it was still for domestic use and after that, things started globalizing. IN 2019, Peru was the 11th largest producer of coffee beans and 5th largest exporter of Arabica coffee beans.

The Best Brands of Peruvian Coffee

With a wide range and mix of flavours to choose from, Peru has quite a few contenders for the title of best coffee the country has to offer. We can skim through a few of them with you.

#1 Tres Cumbres

Tres Cumbres

At the top of our list we have an offering from Volcanica. The Tres Cumbres package is composed of a hundred percent organic Arabica beans that take root in the Chanchamayo province of Peru. A combination of the weather and altitude in the area ensures that the beans grow and flourish without any artificial aid in the shape or pesticides or herbicides. The medium roast is a crafty blend of sweet and sour with gentle acidity, the blend has tinges of caramel, Meyer lemon and orange seeping through and an overarching tone of floral smokiness. 

With a goal to guarantee freshness, the beans are fully washed and then dried in the sun. They are  roasted on the day the order comes in. They are also hand packed for shipping on the day they are roasted.

The beans are available as both whole beans as well as coffee grinds. If your machine at home requires the use of K-cup instead, they have those too.

#2 Cubico Coffee Peru

Cubico Coffee: Peru

The next coffee on the list is a contribution created under the watchful eye of Cenfrocafe. Grown in the Northern highlands of Peru, the beans are handpicked and sun dried. They are then roasted to medium brown in small batches before they are packaged. The date on when the beans are roasted is mentioned clearly on the package. It is done to ensure you know just how fresh the beans you buy are.  

The hard work is rewarded with a delicious blend that hits just the right notes.The punch of  citrus and lemon acidity is balanced out well by the sweet tinge toffee and nuts. The overall body of the beverage feels smooth and highlights the hint of herbs tying everything together. 

Since these beans are grown under the supervision of Cenfrocafe you can be sure they are fairtrade. This means the people working both on and off the field to grow, process and pack the produce are treated well and paid justly for their labour.

#3 Java Planet Peru Coffee

Java Planet Peru Coffee

Next and last in, we have a deacaf offering in case you’re in the mood for some coffee from Peru but cannot or do not wish to consume any caffeine.

The 100% Arabica beans are grown organically without the aid of any outside interference in the shape of chemicals, herbicides or pesticides.The farmers have even used the Swiss Water process while working to  decaffeinate their beans so they can hold on to the natural oils and flavours within them. As with the previous offering, the date the beans are  roasted is put on every bag so you know just how fresh they are when they enter your home.

Only slightly darker than its previous offerings the blend cannot go wrong with its classic mix of nuttiness and chocolate. 

If you need something to seal the deal, take comfort in the fact that this blend is low on acidity ensuring anyone can enjoy a mug or two without worrying about the effect on their stomachs.

#4 Peruvian Poop Coffee

Have you ever walked into an overly priced fancy restaurant that has one too many awards to its name? Did it forced you into a situation where you’ve had to close your eyes, cross your fingers, point to an item on the menu and pray to the food Gods that you haven’t accidentally asked for snails brains, or something worse? Have you ever thought there’d come a day when you prayed to those Gods that you didn’t accidentally order poop coffee to your table? 

No you didn’t read a typing error. Coati Dung Coffee is a very real, very rare and very expensive coffee produced in Peru and is commonly termed as Peruvian Poop Coffee. 

A Coati

What’s the secret behind the name you ask?
The coffee is quite literally sourced out of the feces of the Coati. You see the coffee plants in Peru are sight to beheld when they are in full bloom. They attract a hoard of both human and animal tourists. Among the visitors to the plant is the Coati. Also called the Uchunari by some people, the animal commonly visits coffee fields in Peru to feast after they’ve had their fill of other plants and fruits in the forest.

Once the coffee berry has gone in one end of the little animal and passed through his system, it’s time for it to come out the other end more or less intact. The berry is then collected, thoroughly washed and dried and transported to the mill for the bean to be extracted. Once the bean is removed, it undergoes the usual roasting process. If you’ve got a morbid curiosity. We do have the report from a few first hand consumers of the coffee. When brewed, the beverage has flavours of a number of forest fruits and none of the bitterness expected from the bean.

#5 Cenfrocafe Coffee

Standing since 21 years the Cenfrocafe holds firm as one of the biggest co-operations of farmers in Peru today. 

The organisation took its first steps out with no more than eleven associations and 220 active farmers whose primary goal was to increase the scale of growth and cultivation of coffee in the country. And boy did they achieve that and more. In two short decades, they’ve managed to multiply to 2,000 active farmers and eighty associations spreading their roots through twelve districts within the beautiful region of Cajamarca.

The farmers that are a part of the Cenfrocafe try to only use organic compost and fertilisers in their farms. The coffee is almost completely shade grown leading to a minimal need for outside harmful interference in the growth process. 

The Cenfrocafe provides its farmers with everything from workshops to help them solve  technical and crop quality related issues to providing rural habitats in the region with the education and training to be the leaders of tomorrow. While the small term goals lie in improving the lives and livelihoods of the coffee farmers in the country, the Cenfrocafe also want to bring a positive shift in the development of the communities in the country of Peru.

How to Make Peruvian Coffee

Since its discovery, coffee has spread its wings and its seeds in all corners of the world. Today the beverage has a very real presence wherever you go. There is a unique beauty to how every culture in even the most remote corner has adapted their way of life into how they process and consume the little brown bean.

A visit to Peru will introduce you to café pasado, a local take on the concept of drip coffee. There are two main ways in which the beverage can be brewed. 

1. The Cold Brew 

Also know the long method. This process can take up to twelve hours if done properly

What You’re Going to Need

  • Coffee – A fresh bag of little brown beans should be at the top of your list. Once opened, be sure to store the beans in an airtight container to extend its shelf life.
    A Coffee Grinder – When you grind coffee beans, the carbon dioxide that was trapped within while roasting gets released . Once you grind, the fragrance and flavour start seeping out with time. It is therefore a smart choice to grind your coffee beans right before you brew. If you have a confusion about which one to pick, a burr grinder is the safest choice. It has a long shelf life, comes with a lot of size options to pick from, and offers up uniform coffee grinds.
  • 2 Glass Jars with Airtight Lids – One of the jars for brewing the coffee. The other will be used to hold the coffee after it is brewed. Both need to have lids that hold the flavour and fragnance inside well.
  • Cold water – Try and stay away from tap water as it can bring with it a few impurities that can play a role in altering the taste of the coffee. 
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Sieve
  • A cup for measuring

Step by Step Café Pasado

  • Start by measuring out a cup of coffee beans and place them in the grinder. Make sure the grinder is clean and dry before you begin. Set the grinder for a coarse setting and pulverise away.
  • Grab one of the glass jars and place the cup of coffee grinds inside.
  • Fill two cups of cold water and pour them in over the grinds.
  • Stir or shake the mixture around a few times to extract the most out of the beans.
  • Place the lid on the jar and allow coffee to brew overnight or for roughly twelve hours. If possible, lift the lip every few hours and shake the mixture around a little.
  • Once the time has passed, pour the liquid out through the sieve into the other jar and place the lid on.
Peruvian Coffee Beans

2. The Hot Brew

If you need your coffee faster you’re going to have to opt for this version. This method works when hot, preferably boiling water is poured over freshly ground coffee beans . It can take up to thirty minutes to complete. Since the end result to aim for is a concentrated concoction. The ratio of water to coffee is the same. So if you’re taking ¾ th of a cup of coffee grinds, the aim is to pour  ¾ th of a cup of water over it. 

What you’re Going to Need

  • Coffee – A bag of fresh Peruvian coffee beans
  • Coffee Grinder – To freshly grind your coffee before you brew.
  • 2 cups – One cup for measurements the other to catch the coffee as it brews. 
  • A Coffee filter – In Peru, people use what is called La Cafetera which is a cup usually built of a metal having holes at the bottom.
    If you don’t have access to this, you can simply use a coffee filter holder, or a portable filter to do the job. If you’re using a perishable paper filter, try to find one of good quality as you will be pouring hot water through it in intervals. You don’t want the filter to tear mid way through and ruin the process.
  • A Kettle filled with boiled water – A Gooseneck kettle is the best choice as it will offer the most control over the rate at which you want the water to flow.
  • Bottle for storage.

Step by Step Hot Brew

  • Start by pouring out ¾ cup of fresh coffee beans into your burr grinder and work it till you get a coarse grind size.
  • Place the grinds into the filter and place the filter over your cup.
  • Grab your gooseneck kettle, and slowly pour a little of the hot water into the filter. Be careful to only pour enough to cover the coffee in the filter.
  • Allow the coffee thirty seconds to a minute of rest. Since you’ve hopefully managed to bag a bunch of freshly roasted coffee, this is when you’ll be treated to the beauty of a coffee bloom.
  • After this, add tiny amounts of water at a time. The aim is to extract as much flavour from the coffee beans as possible. Once all the water has passed through pour it into a bottle to store.

Note : The end result of both these techniques of brewing is highly concentrated. A breakfast table in Peru will usually have a jar or bottle of the result of cafe pasado called coffee essence to which you can add all the water or milk and sugar you need to suit your tastes. It is fair to warn you that coffee brewed this way is not palatable to everyone. There are a lot of people who claim this style is too strong or too acidic and basically just doesn’t sit right for them.

If you still wish to enjoy the coffee that Peru offers, the French Press method of brewing is particularly rewarding with these beans. 

3. French Press

It is one of the most no muss no fuss methods of brewing since the apparatus is fairly simple to maneuver and does not require the use of any external filters. The French Press is also one of the few pour over methods of brewing that permits the oils and flavour in the beans to seep into the water which transfers into your drink. It is the perfect match.

The Requirements

  • Coffee – A bag of your new favourite coffee beans all the way from Peru.
  • The French Press – An apparatus that comprises a barrel shaped glass jar, with a plunger and attached filter.
  • A Kettle – Try and get your hands on a gooseneck kettle if possible. The narrow spout offers you better control over the direction and speed of the water flow.
  • A Coffee Grinder – A burr grinder should be perfect to accurately set the size of the coffee grinds.
  • Spoon to stir
  • Kitchen Scale – If you want precision in your measurements, you’re going to need a kitchen scale to get things just right.
  • Your loving Coffee Cup
A French Press

Steps to Brew Peruvian Coffee With French Press

  • Place your French Press on the surface you’re working on, take out the plunger and ensure the equipment is clean and dry. 
  • Empty in some of the hot water from your kettle. Grab the jar by the handle, move it around a few times and throw the water out. We are doing this to warm up the surface of the vessel before you brew.
  • Grab your kitchen scale and measure out 28-30 grams of your fresh Peruvian coffee beans.
  • Set your grinder to coarse and grind away. Now place them into the French Press.
  • Slowly pour in a little of the hot water from your kettle onto the coffee grinds. (roughly double the quantity of the coffee). Try and pour in a circular motion moving from the middle outwards.
  • Gently stir the coffee and wait for thirty seconds to a minute. If you get to see your coffee grinds bloom, it is a visual confirmation that the beans are fresh.
  • Next slowly pour in the rest of the water over the coffee. The water to coffee ratio should be one cup of water to 28 grams of coffee.
  • After you’ve poured the remaining water in, place the lid back on and allow the plunger rest at the top of the water for three to four minutes. 
  • When the time has passed, grasp the plunger and with a steady and constant pressure, press down.
  • Pour the coffee out into your favourite cup and sit back and enjoy a little taste of Peru in your kitchen.

FAQs

When are the beans in Peru usually harvested?

The berries growing in the fields of Peru are perfect for picking from June through till September.

Is the coffee promoted through Cenfrocafe Fair trade?

Yes. All of the coffee marketed through Cenfrocafe is certified as fair trade.

Where does Peru stand in the world ranking of coffee production?

Peru is the ninth largest producer of coffee in the world.

Is Peruvian Coffee good enough

The coffee from Peru is mildly acidic coffee and is aromatic and flavorful with light body. It is considered to be a good blend in most flavorful coffees, especially in darker roasts.

To Sum up

While Peru brings its own unique flavour and cultural contributions towards the coffee community of the world, it sadly is still often overshadowed by its neighbouring giants. However with growing curiosity and increasing the willingness of people to try something new, we predict it won’t be long before Peru rises up the rankings and starts to pose a real threat to the leaders of the coffee world sitting cozy on their thrones.