Coffee category: Balanced
Process: WashedWhat to expect: A welcome return of a Peruvian coffee to the roastery. This super smooth balanced coffee has tasting notes of dried fruit and a chocolate brownie body.
Producer: 400 smallholder farmer members of Lima Coffees
Region: Jaén, Cajamarca
Altitude: 1,650 - 1,800m above sea level
Varietals: Caturra, Typica, Catimor, Mundo Novo, Pache
Rony Lavan is an ambitious and quality-driven cupper who has spent his career trying to carve out better and bolder coffees from small producers in Peru. While the country is emerging as a specialty market after many years of focusing on bigger lots and certifications, Rony's passion is with identifying and developing the top scores and the best cups.
As president of the Lima Coffees exporting organization, Rony has already established himself as standing at the fore of microlot-quality coffees in Cajamarca. His first year with Lima Coffees, he entered the national competition and won; with the introduction of the Cup of Excellence competition to Peru in 2017, the country is poised to enter the international spotlight for its finest offerings. Rony and his coffees will be the ones to watch.
Though coffee arrived in Peru relatively early—in the middle of the 1700s—it wasn’t cultivated for commercial export until nearly the 20th century, with increased demand from Europe and the significant decrease in coffee production in Indonesia. British presence and influence in the country in particular helped increase and drive exports: In the early 1900s, the British government took ownership of roughly 2 million hectares of land from the Peruvian government as payment on a defaulted loan, and much of that land became British-owned coffee plantations.
As in many Central and South American countries, as the large European-owned landholdings were sold or redistributed throughout the 20th century, the farms became smaller and more fragmented, offering independence to farmers but also limiting their access to resources and a larger commercial market. Unlike many other countries whose coffee economy is dominated by smallholders, however, Peru lacks the organization or infrastructure to provide economic or technical support to farmers—a hole that outside organizations and certifications have sought to fill. The country has a remarkable number of certified-organic coffees, as well as Fair Trade–, Rainforest Alliance–, and UTZ-certified coffees. Around 30 percent of the country’s smallholders are members of democratic co-ops, which has increased the visibility of coffees from the area, but has done little to bring incredibly high-quality lots into the spotlight.
As of the 2010s, Peru is one of the top producers of Arabica coffee, often ranked fifth in world production and export of Arabica. The remoteness of the coffee farms and the incredibly small size of the average farm has prevented much of the single-farm differentiation that has allowed for microlot development and marketing in other growing regions, but as with everything else in specialty coffee, this is changing quickly as well. The country’s lush highlands and good heirloom varieties offer the potential for growers to beat the obstacles of limited infrastructure and market access, and as production increases, we are more likely to see those types of advancements.