Posted in Kafevend Blog
Welcome back to the Kafevend blog! We've been on a roll with our national profiles over the past couple of weeks, taking a look at our favourite drinks in Ecuador
. Today we are returning to South America and the country of Peru, where coffee serves as an important agricultural export. So how did it get started?
Peru plays host to a great swathe of the Andes mountain range, stretching from north to south along the country's Pacific coastline. The high altitude is a great boon to the coffee industry, producing a unique flavour that has seen demand increase from countries such as our own, along with the USA and Germany. It wasn't always this way, however. Coffee spread to Peru as it did to many other countries on the continent several centuries ago, as the European powers sought to exploit land and workers to produce cash crops. Stuck out on the Pacific edge of the continent however, there wasn't as much demand from Peru compared to somewhere like Brazil. Coffee farming was instead used to meet local demand as the years went on.
Cooperating on coffee
In more recent years, Peru has become one of the world's top coffee producers, beating Ecuador by a few places in the league table. The coffee grown in Peru is predominantly arabica, grown by tens of thousands of smallholders each working just a few acres of land. The farmers use wet milling to process the beans before taking them to market at the local town. Unfortunately, the price paid to farmers for their coffee beans can be very low if only one buyer turns up, as they can dictate prices without competition. With a lack of storage options to leave their coffee in while waiting for better offers, this gives the farmers little choice but to sell them for a pittance.
Thankfully, many cooperatives such as Cocla, Chirinos and Cenfrocafe have been established in Peru with the purpose of seeing that Peru's coffee farmers are recognised for the quality coffee they produce. Around a quarter of the nation's coffee farmers belong to a cooperative. Along with making sure that the farmers are paid a reasonable price for their coffee, the cooperatives also provide training to increase the value of the coffee crop, as well as providing industrial and social infrastructure to cut out the middle men and improve quality of life respectively.
If you would like to try some Peruvian coffee, there is a good choice on offer from Cafédirect
. A well established fairtrade store, they sell a Machu Picchu arabica coffee produced by a couple of those cooperatives we mentioned earlier. You can find Cafédirect products stocked in most supermarkets, so look out for them the next time you go shopping!
References:Equal ExchangeDaily coffee news