The Complete Guide To Peruvian Coffee


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True coffee aficionados understand what makes an excellent cup of coffee. It starts with the beans sourced from an area notorious for its production. While most countries in the coffee belt of the world produce a wonderful coffee bean, there’s nothing like the ones that come from Peru.

Amazingly, Peru produces the most common type of variety: the Arabica. They are the world’s 11th largest producer and it has notes of chocolate, nuts, fruit and citrus, depending on the region.

It’s their soil quality, altitude and other growing conditions that give it a mellow flavor with mild acidity unlike most other coffee-growing areas. Read on to learn more about this wonderful Peruvian coffee.

Historical Significance

Coffee production began in Peru around the middle of the 1700s. While we don’t know how it got there faster than the rest of Central America, we can surmise it has something to do with the viceroyalty established by Spanish colonization.

At first, the small farming operations meant that only locals enjoyed the coffee. These beans, coming from their neighbor Ecuador, influenced its main production along the western coastline. But this dramatically changed in the years soon to come.

The Sensory Map of Peruvian Coffee

The Late 1800s

But, by the later end of the 1800s production grew to vast imports. This was due to horrific disease that swept through Asia, which was the largest producer of Europe’s coffee consumption at the time. Therefore, buyers scrambled to find other sources with Germany and Europe receiving their first shipments in 1887.

The first major European investment into Peruvian coffee, however, happened the early 1900s. England accepted a default loan payment of over two million hectares of a coffee plantation. This transaction ended up creating 60% of Peruvian exports, which drove the economy up incredibly.

WWII to Present Day

After World War II, England sold its Peruvian coffee plantation to local farmers, which gave them more autonomy. However, the economy took a dive because of reduced production output. Regardless, many of these farms are still in operation today and is the 11th top country that supplies the world’s demand for coffee.

Since the 1970s, there are networks of farms that work in cooperation with one another. It’s become quite the operation and a major source of Peru’s total GDP. Most farming today occurs on over 220,000 acres (90,000 hectares) of land, with some 2,000 plants per hectare.

When they started exporting beans in industrially in 1893, Peru provided the world with around 1,500 tons of coffee beans. Today, it provides over 250,000 tons.

Peru Growing Regions

Coffee growing began and still is farmed near Pacasmayo. The districts of Sandia and Carabaya in the south and the valleys of Chanchamayu, Viloc and Huánuco in the central parts of the country are Peru’s biggest producers.

The slopes of the Andes are the top regions of coffee production in Peru. These include Chanchamayo, the Amazonas and San Martin, among others. St. Ignacio, close to its neighbor Ecuador, is also a coffee growing hotspot.

Varieties of Coffee Grown in Peru

Peru is notorious for its many varietals of Arabica. Estimates place 70% as being Arabica which comprises 20% Caturra and 50% containing the rest. In fact, there are eight different types:

  • Bourbon
  • Catimor
  • Catui
  • Caturra
  • Mundo Novo
  • Pacamara
  • Pache
  • Typica

Peru Coffee Flavor Profile

While Peru grows mostly Arabica varieties, the flavor profile of the coffee will vary depending on the region. The soil and growing conditions will influence the flavor just as much as the particular variety itself.

North

  • Amazonas: Catimor, Caturra and Typica; fruity and sweet
  • Cajamarca: Bourbon, Caturra and Typica; sweet and acidic
  • Cutervo: Bourbon, Catimor, Pacamara, Pache and Typica; prominent vanilla and molasses
  • Piura: Catimor, Caturra and Typica; chocolate, caramel and nutty
  • San Martin: Similar to Amazonas; nutty and chocolaty

Central

  • Huánuco: Catimor, Caturra and Typica; orange and caramel
  • Junin: Catimor, Caturra, and Typica; fruity, creamy and acidic
  • Pasco: Catimor, Caturra and Typica; citrus, floral and fruity 

South

  • Ayacucho: Caturra and Typica; chocolate, cereal, black fruit and caramel
  • Cuzco: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica; chocolate and fruity
  • Puno: Bourbon, Caturra and Typica; chocolaty and fruity

Peruvian Coffee vs Colombian Coffee

Colombian coffee and Peruvian coffee are very similar to one another. First of all, they are neighboring countries. So, the beans produced in southern Colombia will be very similar to the ones from northern Peru. Regardless, there are distinct and notable differences.

Colombian coffee has a simple and balanced complexity that’s highly acidic with a heavy cream-like mouthfeel and floral aroma. It can go into coffee blends as well as stand as a cup brewed on its own as a single origin.

It’s the third largest producer of the world’s coffee, with farms still in existence that go at least five generations back. Some of the most expensive coffee in the world comes from Colombia. For instance, Ospina Dynasty Gran Café Premier Classé Grand Cru costs $1,580 for just over a single pound.

Regardless, there is coffee grown throughout the country with its main areas being Huila, Popayan, Santander and Nariño. But, there is a great risk to the coffee farmers there with volatile politics, wars and devastating weather patterns.

Peruvian coffee, on the other hand, also has a complexity that’s simple and balanced. However, it has a medium acidity and not nearly as much mouthfeel as what typically comes from Colombia. The mellow character of the beans means they are best in blends rather than standing well on their own.

Having said that, Peruvian coffee tends to have a higher grade designation than what comes from Colombia generally. This is because there are more government programs to help farmers educate themselves on the latest farming techniques.

Buying Peruvian Coffee Beans

You can buy Peruvian coffee from roasting companies that source green beans from Peru and roast them at their facilities across the U.S.

It’s better not to buy coffee from supermarket or grocery stores, especially the ones that are stored in the market shelves for a long time. They aren’t fresh anymore.

You can buy coffee beans online. There are a lot of coffee brands/companies, or online roasters, out there that roast and ship freshly roasted coffees.

Volcanica Coffee is one of the largest specialty coffee roasters that offer high-quality single origin coffees from around the world. They have Peru Coffee that is organically grown in the Chanchamayo region. This coffee produces a complex, low acid, full-bodied coffee with floral and smoky overtones.

While Cooper’s Cask Coffee pride itself on their barrel aging method, they also have a wide selection of single origins. That includes their Peruvian Organic Cold Brew that leans toward the side of medium roast level.

Find Coffee Roasters near you

Generally, you can obtain a fresh and consistent roast profile from coffee roasters around your area. You’re also probably getting high-quality beans from them.

If you’re in New York, Bean&Bean Coffee ships the freshest beans to you. You can get their Peru Las Damas coffee just in time and make your freshest brew possible.

Ideally, you just have to search the internet where you can find freshly roasted Peruvian coffee. I suggest to explore different sources, brands, roasteries and businesses out there. You might discover different coffees that you’ve never encountered before as well.

Is Peruvian Coffee any good?

For a true adventure into the wonders of coffee, give the beans that come from Peru a try. It’s ideal for those who don’t like the bright acidity of other beans, like the ones that come from Colombia.

It’s quite mellow with notes of chocolate, nuts, fruit and citrus. Of course, this will heavily impinge upon the region from which it comes from.

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