Tag Archive for: Hannah Scranton

by Miles Small

Peru – The New Gold of the Andes

Categories: 2012, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

On the road up toward St Ignacio in the heart of the Coffee region of Northern Peru, I am struck by how far we are from the ports on the Pacific, or any­thing else for that mat­ter. We are already five hours out of Chiclayo, headed toward Jaen, and then ulti­mately St Ignacio within sight of the Ecuadorian bor­der. We are going deep to find those cof­fees in Peru that deliver the unique qual­i­ties I have come to expect from Peru. To those who know me, it should come as no sur­prise that Peru is one of my favorite coun­tries – not because of the cui­sine (which is extra­or­di­nary and always a sur­prise) but because of the entire Peruvian cof­fee industry’s intense desire to lift the inter­na­tional sta­tus of their cof­fees to pre­mier levels.

Lifting the per­cep­tion of Peruvian cof­fee how­ever is no small task. Peru is the fifth largest exporter of Arabica cof­fee world­wide. However, the coun­try faces daunt­ing chal­lenges as it hopes to cap­i­tal­ize upon the for­eign exchange poten­tial of its cof­fee crop, not the least of which is the sheer vast­ness and inac­ces­si­bil­ity of the coun­try itself.

Peru is split by the Andes Mountains, the pow­er­ful uplifted mon­u­men­tal peaks that stretch from Punta Arenas in Chile to Lake Maracaibo in Colombia at an aver­age height of 4000 meters (13,000 feet). As the west of Peru is star­tlingly arid, the east­ern sides of the Andes are over­whelm­ingly lush and here is where the cof­fee grows. Traveling to the cof­fee grow­ing regions on often-perilous roads and mule trails, these farms and com­mu­ni­ties are nur­tured by the many furi­ous rivers, head­wa­ters of the Amazon, that cas­cade out of the high­lands, embark­ing on the jour­ney to the South Atlantic. Of all the Latin cof­fee loca­tions I have expe­ri­enced, the region around Jaen and north­ern Peru is by far the most lush and ver­dant; and very far away from the con­sumers who crave their cof­fee. Coffee grown in this region must cross the spine of the Andes over dan­ger­ous and law­less roads to the dry mills in Jaen, four hours away, and then on to Chiclayo over eight more hours onward.

It is the dual chal­lenge of nature and infra­struc­ture – and the often cross pur­poses of their goals – that define the dif­fi­cul­ties. Roads with per­ilous grades and shoul­ders ris­ing and drop­ping like roller coast­ers through the moun­tains, inter­spersed occa­sion­ally with tiny ham­lets wedged between the road and abrupt cliffs drop­ping hun­dreds of feet. Nature often reclaims these roads through mas­sive land­slides that scrape the efforts of man from their pre­car­i­ous moun­tain­side perches.

Because of these, and many more chal­lenges, devel­op­ment of more effi­cient sup­ply chain inno­va­tions is slow and expen­sive. Most cof­fee in Peru is wet milled on the farms using small pulpers and ad hoc patio sys­tems. Farmers reduce the mois­ture con­tent to approx­i­mately 20% and then trans­port the “almost fin­ished” cof­fee to the dry mills. According to Isabel Uriante Latorre, the General Manager of PROASSA, the pri­mary dry mill for Café Feminino in the North of Peru, the wet processed cof­fee typ­i­cally is deliv­ered from the farms every two weeks. PROASSA is in Chiclayo, the major urban cen­ter in this part of Peru and is at sea level. This decen­tral­ized sys­tem inevitably leads to poten­tial incon­sis­tency in qual­ity and pro­vides a fer­tile envi­ron­ment for fun­gal devel­op­ment and rot.

This anti­quated in-country sup­ply chain is a direct result of the mar­ket dri­ven envi­ron­ment that existed up into the 1970’s, what I think of as the “Pre-SBC/Starbuck’s Era.” During this period, there were rel­a­tively few buy­ers, and their focus was on quan­tity and imme­di­ate sup­ply rather than qual­ity and value dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion. The cof­fee indus­try in Peru made the strate­gic deci­sion to place large con­sol­i­dated dry mills closer to the ports and trans­porta­tion net­work along the Pacific. A clear advan­tage at the time but in today’s mar­ket, han­dling cof­fee in this way is not con­sid­ered “best practices.”

The Agricultural Ministry in Peru rec­og­nizes the chal­lenges faced by the cof­fee indus­try in Peru and espe­cially the great ben­e­fits poten­tially avail­able through chang­ing the cur­rent sys­tem. Although there are enor­mous polit­i­cal and pow­er­ful busi­ness inter­ests to over­come, the Ministry under­stands that inter­nal sup­ply chain inno­va­tion is nec­es­sary in order to become a world-class Specialty cof­fee supplier.

And change is hap­pen­ing, one the most highly regarded farmer orga­ni­za­tions in Peru is CENFROCAFE in Jaen– high in the Andes. This Cooperativa is orga­nized around 84 farm asso­ci­a­tions and six dry mill pro­cess­ing and fin­ish­ing asso­ci­a­tions, which fun­nel the cof­fee through the finance, mar­ket­ing and sales office in Jaen. All of this is tak­ing place above 1000 meters alti­tude. This orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides direct access to inter­na­tional mar­kets for thou­sands of farm fam­i­lies. Approximately 92% of the cof­fee moved through CENFROCAFE is cer­ti­fied Organic and 100% is cer­ti­fied Fair Tradetm.

Instrumental to the suc­cess of CENFROCAFE is the high level of access and com­mu­ni­ca­tion between all ele­ments of the asso­ci­a­tion. Members must be pre­pared for con­tin­u­ing inno­va­tion and rein­vest­ment in order to meet the qual­ity stan­dards of the Coöperative.
One such pro­cess­ing asso­ci­a­tion is Casil, Ltda in St. Ignacio Peru. Deep in the cof­fee grow­ing region in the north­ern tip of Peru and within sight of the Ecuadorian bor­der, this dry mill is within easy access to the entire region and receives cof­fee daily dur­ing har­vest. Coffee processed on the farms is quickly con­sol­i­dated through the farm asso­ci­a­tions and trans­ported Casil for fin­ish­ing and dry mill pro­cess­ing. The Coop is financ­ing con­struc­tion on new ware­hous­ing facil­i­ties for stor­age in parch­ment and stor­age in antic­i­pa­tion of mar­kets. A full cup­ping lab rounds out the mix with a “Q” grader on-site for grad­ing and qual­ity con­trol. The level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism at Casil, and through­out the Coöperative shows in the faces and pride of its mem­bers, the numer­ous inter­na­tional cus­tomers pur­chas­ing their prod­ucts at sig­nif­i­cant pre­mi­ums, and their con­sis­tent suc­cess at cup­ping com­pe­ti­tions against other Peruvian coffees.

We had the oppor­tu­nity to meet two farm­ers, who are mem­bers of Casil, and hear their sto­ries. Both were extra­or­di­nary in their affir­ma­tion of qual­ity and the hap­pi­ness of being part of a larger world through the Coöperative.

Here is the foun­da­tion upon which a new and mod­ern Peruvian cof­fee cul­ture will be built. David Bisetti, owner of Bisetti’s and Arabica cafes in Lima along with Hannah Scranton, as well as KC O’Keefe, owner of Café Verde in Lima all believe that the activ­i­ties of CENFROCAFE, and other actively sup­ported inno­va­tions by the Ministry of Agriculture, will serve as poten­tial mod­els for demon­strat­ing to the world that Peru is truly a world-class sup­plier of some of the finest cof­fees in the world.
The com­ing Expo Café in Peru in November will once again demon­strate Peru’s com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ous improve­ment as the ethos of qual­ity expands through­out Peru.

For more info on Peru includ­ing video inter­views with David Bisetti and Hannah Scranton, KC O’Keefe, as well as farmer inter­views, pho­tos and much more, visit

Retailer Profile: Arabica

Categories: 2011, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hola every­body! We are back in the cap­i­tal of Peru, and this time we are going down to one of Lima’s most suc­cess­ful inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops – Arabica espresso bar/roasterie. Please meet the happy cof­fee stoned owner David Bisetti, who will share his won­der­ful story with all of us.

V. Buenas tardes David! First of all, what a comfy place you have, it looks like a lit­tle cas­tle! Coffee busi­ness own­ers usu­ally have inter­est­ing sto­ries of how they evolved, so let’s hear yours?

B. Thanks Max! Actually, the roast­ing busi­ness has been in my fam­ily since before I was even born; my grand­fa­ther, the son of Italian immi­grants, was a roaster, and he had his roas­t­erie in Lima back in 1958. That roas­t­erie closed down some­time later, but it didn’t stop my fam­ily from giv­ing me cof­fee since I was very lit­tle: my grand­mother would make sure to serve me a cup of caffe latte before every trip to kinder­garten (laughs).

This busi­ness (Arabica espresso bar) is pretty recent, my part­ner Hannah Scranton and I cre­ated it four years ago. After com­ing back to Lima from NYC, where I got my barista expe­ri­ence, we couldn’t find a nice, qual­ity cof­fee shop in Lima. This is what moti­vated us to open up our own. As you can see, the inside design is meant to be sim­ple and laid back –local art, cush­ions, knee high tables and a book­shelf with an exten­sive col­lec­tion of board games.

V. The rumor around the city is that you have some of the best espresso drinks and pas­tries in Lima, par­tic­u­larly a car­rot cake. I have tried both, and they are delicious!

B. Sure! Hannah, my busi­ness part­ner, is an incred­i­ble pas­try chef. We divided the whole project up from the very begin­ning. I took care of cof­fee, and she got in charge of pas­tries with other helpers in the kitchen. Her pas­tries have become an instant suc­cess and another appeal of this place.

V. Could you shed some light on the qual­ity of cof­fee con­sumed and dis­trib­uted in Peru? Has it improved?

B. The mar­ket for good cof­fee is still devel­op­ing in Peru. The major­ity of the cof­fee that you find here is burnt ground and instant; it tends to have that bit­ter taste that fills your throat, and many peo­ple still mis­tak­enly take it as a sign of good coffee.

Fortunately for us, Starbucks came to Peru years ago, and now more and more peo­ple get acquainted with the idea of whole cof­fee beans being the raw mate­r­ial of what is in their cups. I per­son­ally don’t enjoy Starbucks cof­fee, but thanks to Starbucks’ brochures and mar­ket­ing strate­gies, the right infor­ma­tion is now out there, and this setup is good for our local roaster/retailer business.

V. How do you man­age to get good qual­ity beans for your busi­ness if almost all of the good Peruvian stuff is being exported?

B. Yes, sadly, most of the great Peruvian cof­fee goes straight out for export; cof­fee cor­po­ra­tions and orga­ni­za­tions here are not so famil­iar with the idea of sell­ing this high-profile cof­fee in the local mar­ket. We always try to con­vince them oth­er­wise; we say, “Don’t sell it all, leave some here – we have clients.” We never ask for a spe­cial price, since we are always ready to pay what­ever their American or German clients pay, and we have now devel­oped some great rela­tion­ships with local sup­pli­ers, which allow us to use only the high­est qual­ity beans for our cof­fee needs. We are not greedy though; we don’t ask for exclu­sive rights to roast one’s cof­fee because good beans are meant to be shared between dif­fer­ent roast­ers. We also let every­one know who the farmer is, and we never try to brand the beans as our own. This is our phi­los­o­phy – to be fair to every­one involved in the industry.

V. Where do the major­ity of the beans that you use come from in Peru, and do they have any unique attrib­utes depend­ing on their geo­graph­i­cal origin?

B. Definitely! We have cof­fees from Jaen, which is in the north of Peru and from Puno, which is in the south. I find cof­fees from the north to be pre­dom­i­nantly fruity and acidic with pineap­ple and tan­ger­ine hints, whereas the ones from the south tend to be more delicately-bodied and choco­laty with hints of vanilla.

V. That is a nice look­ing work­horse (roaster) over there? Where is it from?

B. The roaster that you see here was made in Peru by a local fac­tory. We had a choice of going German, but I have decided to go local, and I am really happy with its roast­ing capabilities.

By the way, we have already bought our next roaster from the same com­pany. It is 15 kilos, and it is going to our other loca­tion – a huge roasterie/coffee shop that we are open­ing up next week in another high-traffic dis­trict of Lima – Barranco. Larger size will pro­vide more seat­ing area for com­puter geeks (laughs) and will allow us to intro­duce fre­quent cup­ping ses­sions in our own cof­fee lab.

V. Who are Arabica’s customers?

B. In the morn­ing it is mostly tourists because most of the Peruvians start work­ing too early to be able to get a cup of cof­fee before work. Here in Peru cof­fee is more of a social thing; our rush hour starts when locals (young pro­fes­sion­als) meet for cof­fee and pas­tries after the work­day is over.

V. What is the ulti­mate recipe for suc­cess in roaster/retailer business?

B. Nowadays, if you open up, and if you don’t pur­sue the qual­ity of your prod­uct, you are even­tu­ally bound for fail­ure. Peruvians have a great palate for food in gen­eral, and the tastes for good cof­fee are get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, so, just like for sim­i­lar busi­nesses in the U.S., it is all about qual­ity, qual­ity, and quality.


Recavarren 269 Miraflores, 18
Lima, Peru
t: (+51) 715 – 2152
David Bisetti

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