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Tag Archive for: Concurso Nacional

by Miles Small

Café Peruano

Categories: 2011, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Peru is the sixth largest pro­ducer of Arabica cof­fees in the world! Interestingly, that fact comes as a sur­prise to many in the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try. In order to change the per­cep­tion of Peruvian cof­fees in the con­sum­ing world, the Junta Nacional del Café (the Peruvian Coffee Association), the Peru Ministry of Agriculture, and PromPeru (a gov­ern­ment agency tasked with rais­ing inter­na­tional aware­ness of all things Peru), have joined forces to raise their coffee’s mar­ket cachet.

As part of this effort, this year saw the intro­duc­tion of the first Expo Café in Peru. For the first time Peruvian grow­ers and sup­pli­ers met to share infor­ma­tion, inform grow­ers of trends, and wel­come inter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants. CoffeeTalk was for­tu­nate to be part of the inter­na­tional press con­tin­gent to attend the Expo. This suc­cess­ful first-time event also coin­cided with the sev­enth Concurso Nacional de Cafes de Calidad final – the finals of the national cof­fee qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion – and the first judged by inter­na­tional cup­pers and staged fol­low­ing inter­na­tional cup­ping protocols.

Despite their suc­cess­ful steps into inter­na­tional notice, the Peruvian Coffee Association and the Ministry of Agriculture face a daunt­ing task. Many obsta­cles need to be over­come while jour­ney­ing toward Peru being part of the inter­na­tional pan­theon of world-class cof­fee pro­duc­ing coun­tries. To their credit, the lead­ers of the Peruvian cof­fee indus­try are aware of the chal­lenges they face and are tak­ing the appro­pri­ate steps.

Coffee in Peru is grown on the Eastern slope of the Andes within the Amazonian water­shed. Individual farm­ers and rural coop­er­a­tives are respon­si­ble for all aspects of wet milling and dry­ing to parch­ment at 12–14% mois­ture. As in most cof­fee grow­ing areas, the aver­age farm size is less than 2 hectares. Because of lack of trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture, the farm­ers must rely on a sys­tem of mid­dle­men to get their prod­ucts to the dry mills.

Most of Peru’s dry mills are cen­tered close to the sea­ports on the Pacific coast, hun­dreds of miles from the farms and across the spine of the Andes Mountains. These mas­sive indus­trial mills typ­i­cally aggre­gate all the cof­fees they receive into “Peruvian cof­fee.” They only seg­re­gate cer­ti­fied coffees.

The sys­tem is loaded with oppor­tu­ni­ties to affect the qual­ity of the cof­fee neg­a­tively. In order to sup­port spe­cialty cof­fees, the Peruvians will have to tighten their sup­ply chain and bring more dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion into their pro­cess­ing. For exam­ple, the den­sity sorters in one of their largest dry mill had only three pad­dles sort­ing “domes­tic con­sump­tion,” poor qual­ity (instant), and good qual­ity (com­mod­ity).
One of the lim­it­ing ele­ments of Peruvian export cof­fee is grad­ing. Peru only grades their cof­fees for export into two grades – essen­tially “Okay” and “Better.” As a result, the pro­to­cols they impose for defect grad­ing of good cof­fee would not pass muster in the Specialty market.

In fair­ness, this does not limit importers from going to the source and work­ing with co-ops to find extra­or­di­nary cof­fees much as Sustainable Harvest and Equal Exchange do, but this sys­tem does dis­cour­age typ­i­cal large importers to spe­cialty.
But these obsta­cles and oth­ers are sur­mount­able and have been faced by many emer­gent cof­fee coun­tries. With dili­gence and deter­mi­na­tion as demon­strated through the Expo, Peru soon will be an essen­tial ele­ment of every roaster’s cof­fee program.

Part of the evi­dence of how lit­tle we know about Peru is shown in tourist reac­tions to Lima, the cap­i­tal city. Peru depends on tourism but most tourists travel directly to Cuzco and then up to Machu Picchu. Lima, Peru is a vital and met­ro­pol­i­tan city. Residence to over 10 mil­lion peo­ple, it is the cen­ter of bank­ing and com­merce on the Equatorial West coast of South America.

Historically, it has been a major fac­tor in the estab­lish­ment of Spanish hege­mony over Central and South America. At one time, it was the Western Hemisphere seat of the Spanish Kingdom – the Viceroy (the Spanish King’s voice in the Spanish colonies) gov­erned from Lima mak­ing that city the cen­ter of Spain’s colo­nial uni­verse. As a result, the city also became the cen­ter of the Catholic churches pres­ence in the colonies. Many his­tor­i­cal build­ings from the 15th and 16th cen­turies remain as sen­tinels to the country’s colo­nial splen­dor, and its shame.

Some, but very few, mon­u­ments from Peru’s pre-Colombian past remain in the city. The gov­ern­ment and UNESCO are actively restor­ing many of these her­alds of Peru’s 10,000 year his­tory of con­tin­u­ous settlement.

In many ways, Peru’s rel­a­tive iso­la­tion over the past 150 years has led to a truly unique cul­ture. As Spain lost its colo­nial and mar­itime influ­ence in the Western Hemisphere, so waned the global influ­ence of the west­ern nations of South America. The result of this period of self-sufficiency estab­lished the full inte­gra­tion of many of Peru’s cul­tural and eth­nic diver­sity into a fully inter­wo­ven piece.

As one who likes food and food prepa­ra­tion almost as much as I like cof­fee, the cui­sine of Peru was extra­or­di­nary. Peruvian food, which is embraced by all Peruvians, is a mix­ture of ancient and mod­ern tra­di­tions using food prod­ucts that can only be found in Peru.
Incorporating and assim­i­lat­ing every cul­ture that has come to its shores, Lima boasts restau­rants that match and sur­pass many 5-stars in the US and Europe. Fusions of meth­ods using foods once eaten by the Incan civ­i­liza­tion, rare and unusual fruits, root veg­eta­bles, and grains are incor­po­rated into any­thing from fresh seafood to Chinese stir-fry.

Peru, and the Peruvian cof­fee pro­duc­ers, are poised on the brink of emerg­ing into inter­na­tional great­ness. There chal­lenges are off­set by the energy and enthu­si­asm of the Peruvians themselves.

This is box title
The first inter­na­tion­ally judged Peruvian cof­fee com­pe­ti­tion, the VII Concurso Nacional de Cafes de Calidad, was tak­ing place con­cur­rently with the Expo Café Del Peru. Hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Peruvian Coffee Association and tak­ing place in the SCAA pro­to­col lab at Bisetti, the upscale café and roast­ery located in the Barranca dis­trict of Lima.

Café Bisetti, which has been pro­filed in a pre­vi­ous issue of CoffeeTalk is the mas­ter­piece of David and Hanna Bisetti, who also own the Arabica Café in Lima.

The judg­ing panel was com­posed of six Peruvian judges and six inter­na­tional trained judges from the US, Europe, the UK, and Japan. The win­ning cof­fee, with a score of 88.75 over­all, was from Benjamin Peralta Surco of the CECOVASA coöper­a­tive in the province of Puno. His cof­fee was described as ‘per­fect’ and ‘fleshy’ by many of the judges.

Second, third, and fourth place were tied with a score of 86.16. All these cof­fees were grown above 1700 meters.

Click here to down­load the results.