In August 2018, we travelled to Peru. The third largest coffee producer in South America. Although Square Mile has sporadically bought Peruvian coffee since 2010, we have always struggled to find high-quality lots with a decent shelf-life that did not fade the moment it reached our shores. When finally, we were introduced to a mixed lot from Cajamarca, a region that exceeded all our expectations, we were intrigued enough to travel to origin and explore the possibilities for ourselves.
As this was our first trip to Peru, we spent the bulk of our time in the North. Visiting farms would often require a three to four-hour 4×4 drive on winding dirt roads reaching altitudes of over 1800 metres. Time which we spent immersing ourselves in the breath-taking views of the Andes, its people and the sweet, citrusy flavour profiles paired with light, medium body and delicate floral aromas typical to coffees of this region.
Meandering across these paths we came across incredible producers, the most curious being Alberto Frias Chuquicahua. While we were visiting Saul Menor Tayca, the first producer from our trip we showcased in January, Alberto showed up “by chance”, and convinced us to come and see his farm. Super passionate and proud to show us his 1 1/2 hectares of Caturra and Pache we did not quite know what we were in for. At 2000 masl, the steep hike up the hill to his farm took a toll on our lungs, to say the least, but was it worth it? Once we cupped his coffee, we had to take the entire lot, making it the largest purchase for our Peru trip. Slightly lighter in body, with white florals and a lovely delicate texture, we take great pleasure in Alberto’s coffee, which he picks and processes himself on a small hand pulper before drying it on his tarpaulin lined patio.
During the 90’s Peru famously focused on making coffee fair-trade and organic, with over 80,000 hectares now certified organic, which unfortunately has not yielded exceptional quality. Not only are there significant challenges in relation to most of the farm’s geographic isolation, but often there is only one local buyer or co-op in a district. Having previously sold his coffee in this manner, Alberto was paid according to the physical qualities of the green coffee, roughly based on a market price, leaving him with very little to invest back into his farm. This year, however, Alberto started selling his coffee based on cup quality and almost tripled his income and deservedly so!
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Alberto Frias Chuquicahua
PEACH / HONEYSUCKLE / CUSTARD