Board an 18-hour flight from Australia. As the plane is close to landing, you glance out of the window to see just how diverse the Peruvian landscape is.
From rainforests to deserts, beaches to mountains, Peru is the third-largest South American country and is known for several historic landmarks like Machu Picchu and the Rainbow Mountains.
What is seldom discussed about Peru is the role it played in spreading the popularity of coffee to the rest of South America.
In this blog post, we are going to examine key historical events, contemporary industry trends, and the flavour profile of Peruvian coffees.
Historical records suggest that the emergence of a strong coffee industry in Peru can be attributed to two forces - Peru’s indigenous community and the Spanish colonialists.
While the former have been cultivating coffee and using it to preserve their traditions for hundreds of years, the colonials are also said to have brought coffee plants with them in the 18th century.
Initially, most of the coffee produced by Peruvian farmers was retained within the country for domestic consumption.
It was the late 1800s when Peru saw exports opening up to regions like England and Germany. This was partly due to the growing demand for coffee in the rest of the world and poor coffee harvest in some of the Southeast Asian countries because of plant rust.
Moreover, due to foreign investments, farmers were able to sell their produce without geographical limitations, which hadn’t been possible so far.
Much later, the land owned by the British was redistributed amongst the natives after the world wars. This granted the coffee producers greater freedom but also held them back in terms of access to a global market. As a result, farmer cooperatives were set up.
Such initiatives not only boosted the Peruvian farmers’ morale but also brought Peruvian coffee to the global coffee market.
Despite the impediments that troubled coffee producers of Peru for decades, their determination to produce organic coffee and stick to sustainable practices has proved the worth of their evolving coffee industry.
Gradually, the country climbed the ranks and is not one of the top 10 coffee-producing nations in the world.
Like the Indonesian kopi luwak, Peru too has its own version called the dung coffee.
This coffee is made by fermenting arabica cherries that are consumed and excreted by a local animal, Coati. The animal’s diet is one of the factors that affect the profile of the coffee. Once the coffee cherries are collected, they are thoroughly cleaned to maintain hygiene and then processed to obtain green beans.
Peru’s coffee culture is one rooted in traditions and relaxation. The moment you enter a Peruvian coffee shop, you can immediately tell the difference.
Peruvians don’t just treat coffee as something to be “grabbed on the go”. It’s more about friendships, conversation, and having a good time. They not only believe in brewing coffee classics but also stick to their roots in producing creative renditions of the beverages you have come to know.
In Peru, coffee is grown primarily at a high altitude. There are coffee farms in 10 regions of the country, all at varying elevations and environmental conditions.
Although there’s no one flavour profile that is representative of coffees from all over Peru, you can expect to find tasting notes of flowers, nuts, and fruits. The aroma can range from floral to sweet, even as the coffee packs a mild acidity.
Its medium body guarantees that you are able to enjoy the flavour profile as a well-balanced whole.
If you are searching for some of the best Peruvian coffees, look for those sourced from the Chachapoyas or Jaén regions.
Not just in high demand in Latin America, Peruvian coffees have gained recognition worldwide. They have won awards such as Cup of Excellence and SPP Specialty Coffee Awards.
Comment and let us know if you have tried any Peruvian coffees yourself.