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Tag Archive for: South America

by Dr. Moisés D. González, Ph.D. – Stevia Breeding Manager for the Truvia® business

Instilling a Commitment of Sustainability from the Beginning

Categories: 2013, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

MoisesToday’s global con­sumers are increas­ingly look­ing for prod­ucts from a nat­ural ori­gin to help them man­age their daily caloric intake. These same peo­ple care about where their food comes from and how the envi­ron­ment and the peo­ple who grow these prod­ucts are treated. Truvia® brand. Truvia® has answered this con­sumer need with its calo­rie free sweet­ener whose sweet­ness is made from the best-tasting part of the ste­via leaf. Much as how cof­fee shops saw that con­sumers were look­ing for a great tast­ing cup of cof­fee that was sourced respon­si­bly, we saw the demand for calo­rie free sweet­ness from nature. Today stevia-based prod­ucts can be found in over 56 mil­lion U.S. households.

When we started, ste­via was grown on small farms scat­tered around Asia and in some remote areas in South America.  As we built a ste­via sup­ply chain on a global com­mer­cial scale, we saw the rare oppor­tu­nity to help shape the ste­via indus­try from the ground up in a respon­si­ble way.

We view the devel­op­ment of a best-practice ste­via agri­cul­tural stan­dard as a core com­po­nent of our strat­egy to set the bar for respon­si­ble prac­tices in the ste­via indus­try and give pro­duc­ers a guide for the respon­si­ble cul­ti­va­tion of stevia.

Our ste­via stan­dard is applic­a­ble to small-scale farms glob­ally. It aims to min­i­mize envi­ron­men­tal impact, pro­mote the health and safety of the pro­ducer, align with food safety and trace­abil­ity require­ments, and ensure con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. We piloted it with a coöper­a­tive group of farm­ers in Argentina, where agri­cul­tural tech­ni­cians worked with them to pro­vide train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance on the ste­via stan­dard as well as agri­cul­tural best practices.

One of the most reward­ing aspects of my work is the col­lab­o­ra­tion I am fos­ter­ing between the stevia-growing pro­grams in Asia and South America.  In the past, research was done in iso­la­tion.  Now, we have inte­gra­tion, and by shar­ing our find­ings, we are see­ing advances come more quickly.  With the imple­men­ta­tion of the stan­dard in China, the ste­via farm­ers are ben­e­fit­ing from the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of the farm­ers in Argentina.

Similarly to how cof­fee is all about devel­op­ing the best bean – one that pros­pers in var­i­ous weather con­di­tions, is resis­tant to dis­eases, and yet also deliv­ers a con­sis­tent taste when used alone or in blends – my research focuses on devel­op­ing pro­pri­etary ste­via vari­eties.  In col­lab­o­ra­tion with uni­ver­si­ties and part­ners world­wide, I lead genetic improve­ment pro­grams that rely on tra­di­tional breed­ing meth­ods such as selec­tion and cross­ings. These pro­grams focus on ste­via traits like leaf yield, gly­co­side con­tent, drought tol­er­ance and dis­ease resis­tance, empha­siz­ing cer­tain attrib­utes depend­ing on the envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors unique to each grow­ing region.

Producing good crops depends on clean water, healthy soil, clean air and sun­light. As a food brand, our aware­ness of the impor­tance of tak­ing care of nat­ural resources over the long term can­not be over­stated. To ensure proper care of nat­ural resources, we under­took a life-cycle analy­sis to under­stand the major envi­ron­men­tal impacts in the ste­via value chain. The results brought four key areas to the fore­front: green­house gas emis­sions, water use, waste, and land management.

With that under­stand­ing of the envi­ron­men­tal impacts, the Truvia® busi­ness made some sig­nif­i­cant com­mit­ments, includ­ing the fol­low­ing:
•    Reduce car­bon foot­print by 50% in 2015 from a 2010 base­line to become car­bon neu­tral in 2020.  Truvia® sweet­ener is the first sweet­ener to receive cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of its car­bon foot­print by the UK-based Carbon Trust.
•    Ensure all processed water is returned in the same qual­ity in which it was taken and reduce net deple­tion by 25% by 2020.
•    Reduce waste by 50% across the sup­ply chain in 2015 in efforts to become zero waste by 2020.
•    Ensure ste­via in the Truvia® sup­ply chain is not grown on con­ser­va­tion or pro­tected land.

We believe the best way to ensure proper care is to imple­ment a sys­tem that strives for con­tin­u­ous improve­ment.  I work with the fam­i­lies to form long-term rela­tion­ships and engage as a team to improve the com­mu­ni­ties where ste­via is har­vested and the Truvia® enter­prise oper­ates. We also pro­vide sup­port to pro­duc­ers to invest in edu­ca­tion, health­care, farm improve­ments and tech­ni­cal assis­tance.  Our goal for these pro­grams is that it will stim­u­late self-sufficient and thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties, using edu­ca­tion and schools as the por­tal to reach not just chil­dren, but also fam­i­lies and farmers.

With an indus­try just in its infancy, we sup­port the work of the International Stevia Council, the indus­try group whose mis­sion is focused on increas­ing the under­stand­ing and aware­ness of ste­via, affirm­ing its safety and estab­lish­ing con­sis­tent ana­lyt­i­cal meth­ods for ste­via con­tent.  As with any new inno­va­tion in the food indus­try, it is impor­tant that stan­dards and prac­tices be set to ensure account­abil­ity and trans­parency among ste­via producers.

We have built a sus­tain­able “field to table” ste­via sup­ply chain and com­mit­ted to impor­tant eco­nomic, social and envi­ron­men­tal goals.  This is a jour­ney and one that con­tin­ues to evolve and improve as we learn from the prac­tices that we have imple­mented.  As the demand increases for stevia-sweetened prod­ucts around the world, we see the work we do as set­ting the stan­dard for the grow­ing ste­via industry.

Similar to the cof­fee indus­try, we made the deci­sion to instill two core val­ues into the devel­op­ment of a sus­tain­able ste­via sup­ply chain – eth­i­cal prac­tices and fair pric­ing. Wherever we oper­ate and what­ever we do, we treat all peo­ple and busi­ness part­ners with dig­nity and respect. Through a sys­tem of self-assessments and third-party audits, this ensures that the sup­ply chains, which bring our prod­uct from field to table, are man­aged with integrity and trans­parency.  We put a lot of care into each packet of Truvia® sweet­ener so each of our con­sumers can com­ple­ment their cup of cof­fee with Truvia® sweet­ener to make their per­fect cup.

Natvia, a key Stevia provider
In the United States, the aver­age adult con­sumes about 22 tea­spoons of sugar per day, almost three times the rec­om­mended daily intake.  Natvia wanted to offer peo­ple a healthy, nat­ural way to enjoy a lit­tle sweet­ness in their lives. In 2009, they launched in Australia seek­ing to inspire a bet­ter life in peo­ple around the globe. A few short years later, they are very proud to be cus­to­di­ans of a prod­uct that their fans describe as “the world’s best sweetener”.

To cre­ate Natvia they used only the fresh­est tips of Stevia plants, known as Reb A, and care­fully blended the ste­via with a nat­u­rally occur­ring fruit nec­tar, known as Erythritol, that is found in mel­ons and grapes. The result is a 100% nat­ural pure, clean, sweet tast­ing zero calo­rie sweet­ener.  Natvia also has no impact on blood sugar lev­els mak­ing it the ideal choice for dia­bet­ics to enjoy a sweet expe­ri­ence while still man­ag­ing their sugar intake.

In cre­at­ing Natvia they focused not only on the health ben­e­fits for their cus­tomers, but also on cre­at­ing the best taste. To accom­plish this they assem­bled a panel of cof­fee indus­try experts, includ­ing roast­ers, café own­ers, and baris­tas to help develop a clean tast­ing pro­file that com­pli­ments cof­fee. After con­duct­ing 600 tri­als, they ended up with a sweet­ener that had no bit­ter or chem­i­cal after­taste, did not leave any film in the cup, and did not mask the fla­vors of cof­fee or espresso drinks.

Natvia has received praise from nutri­tion­ists, dia­bet­ics, health con­scious con­sumers, and cof­fee lovers for the clean taste and nat­ural ingre­di­ents.  The world’s most cel­e­brated cof­fee roast­ers and cafes are serv­ing Natvia to their cus­tomers. Natvia believes they have cre­ated the world’s best nat­ural sweetener.

Gender Equality and Education as a Sustainable Future

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 18-AEduca­tion, health and gen­der equal­ity are the core social issues faced by all nations regard­less of their devel­op­ment sta­tus. These issues were glob­ally addressed in the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in the year 2000.

The Millennium Development Goal for gen­der equal­ity is to pro­mote gen­der equal­ity and empower women. The tar­get is “to elim­i­nate gen­der dis­par­ity in pri­mary and sec­ondary edu­ca­tion, prefer­ably by 2005, and in all lev­els of edu­ca­tion no later than 2015”. In 1999, pri­mary school enroll­ment was 91 girls for every 100 boys and 88 girls for every 100 boys enrolled in sec­ondary school. In 2008 the ratios were 96:100 and 95:100 for the two lev­els of edu­ca­tion respec­tively. Despite this progress, there is still dis­par­ity between girls and boys, and the goal is still out of reach for many devel­op­ing coun­tries. The cof­fee indus­try can be a con­trib­u­tor to the suc­cess­ful achieve­ment of this goal.

What is the gen­der sta­tus of our indus­try and how can we pro­mote equal­ity? Is there a par­ity prob­lem when we think about the baris­tas, cup­pers and roast­ers pro­fes­sion­als? Not really, as we see women and men work­ing and run­ning their own busi­nesses, equally orga­nized and skilled.

The gap becomes evi­dent when we look at cof­fee ori­gins around the world. There is a lack of sta­tis­tics regard­ing the num­ber of women work­ing in the cof­fee fields, their edu­ca­tion level and their oppor­tu­nity for advance­ment. For exam­ple, in Central and South America many farms are reg­is­tered under a woman’s own­er­ship through inher­i­tance or for tax ben­e­fit, but the women have no con­trol over the prop­erty. On the other hand, farms are still reg­is­tered under a man’s own­er­ship and are run by a woman as many men did not come back from the polit­i­cal con­flicts occurred over the past decades. So, the “moth­ers” had to take over the busi­ness and run the farms them­selves as an act of des­per­a­tion and courage in order to feed their fam­i­lies. These women do indeed exist, as we in the cof­fee indus­try see them, talk to them, touch and con­sume the prod­ucts they pro­duce all the time—but still to the out­side world, these women are invis­i­ble and speechless.

NGO’s have been work­ing on the goal for quite some time now. A leader in rec­og­niz­ing the poten­tial of work­ing with women in cof­fee was Café Femenino in 2004. The suc­cess of empow­er­ing women farm­ers with edu­ca­tional tools to pro­duce improved qual­ity cof­fee led to the cre­ation of the Café Femenino Foundation that now pro­vides funds to other projects related to a bet­ter liv­ing for all women and their fam­i­lies work­ing in cof­fee production.

The International Women Coffee Alliance (IWCA) has a sim­i­lar goal. “The over­all mes­sage we like to con­vey is the impor­tance of women par­tic­i­pat­ing in train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and finan­cial trans­ac­tions,” says IWCA vice pres­i­dent, Johana Bolt. “Both fac­tors impact pro­duc­tion qual­ity and vol­ume, as well as ensur­ing that a higher pro­por­tion of income is invested back into the health, nutri­tion and edu­ca­tion of cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties.” Eight chap­ters were formed by IWCA in coffee-producing coun­tries to bet­ter under­stand the local needs, develop lead­er­ship and imple­ment local edu­ca­tional projects. Another eleven coun­tries have shown inter­est in form­ing their own chapters.

Certification orga­ni­za­tions have been instru­men­tal regard­ing equal pay for men and women. In many places women are paid less than a man to exe­cute the same work. Certifications like Rainforest Alliance® and Good Inside® make sure that all employ­ees of a cer­ti­fied farm are decently and equally paid.

The largest Arabica pro­ducer in the world, Brazil, is one of the coun­tries where the lack of gen­der equal­ity sta­tis­tics is over­whelm­ing. The Brazilian IWCA chap­ter has been recently formed, and research on these sta­tis­tics is planned by 2014.

Private ini­tia­tives have cre­ated out­stand­ing exam­ples of gen­der equal­ity in cof­fee pro­duc­ing areas. Daterra Coffee farms in Brazil is one of the world’s largest spe­cialty Arabica cof­fee pro­duc­ers which employs 553 staff, 142 of which are women work­ing in the diverse tasks needed to run the busi­ness through­out the year. This means that around 25% of the whole staff is female, and the tar­get is to reach at least 30%. Daterra’s most recent gen­der equal­ity project was a tech­ni­cal course to teach women how to oper­ate machin­ery used in cof­fee pro­duc­tion, tra­di­tion­ally a male-only posi­tion. In the last ten months, thirty women took the two months course. Twenty-two are now employed at the farm in new posi­tions. They pre­vi­ously worked on hand pick­ing and this was an oppor­tu­nity to learn new skills as well as increas­ing their pay­ing. “They will be able to use this train­ing for the rest of their lives, even if they decide to work in another com­pany. Much of the machin­ery is used in other agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tions as well,” said farm gen­eral man­ager Leopoldo Santanna, who devel­oped and imple­mented the project.

Also, another impor­tant part of the whole busi­ness is run by women. The Daterra farm is a fam­ily owned com­pany con­trolled by Isabela Pascoal Becker, Luis Pascoal’s daugh­ter, who has trusted the sales and mar­ket­ing divi­sion to another woman, Andreza Mazarão.

These are just a few exam­ples of what can be done for gen­der equal­ity. There are still chal­lenges: We need more accu­rate infor­ma­tion on the sta­tis­tics and we need to set goals for gen­der equal­ity at the farm level, as well as to develop tools to mea­sure its progress. Educating these women pro­vides them with the chance to make their own choices and improve their own fam­ily future. Sharing knowl­edge is the ulti­mate “sus­tain­able” way of doing almost every­thing in our lives!

12_12 18-DAndreza Mazarao, Sales & Marketing Manager and Isabela Pascoal Becker at Daterra Coffee

International Food and the Café

Categories: 2012, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

This month, I attended the inter­na­tional Expoalimentaria in Lima, Peru. This expo brought together food prod­uct and equip­ment pro­duc­ers from all cor­ners of the South American con­ti­nent to show­case their com­pa­nies to the world. Attended by inter­na­tional buy­ers from not only Latin America, but also North America and the world, the dis­plays were strik­ing in their famil­iar­ity to American con­sumers. Tropical fruits of course, and exotic veg­eta­bles known only to Latin chefs but also every prod­uct found in a tra­di­tional gro­cery or restaurant.

South America is of enor­mous impor­tance to North American food­ser­vice and gro­cery com­pa­nies. It is the mir­ror image grow­ing sea­son from North America that makes so much of what we take for granted in fresh food seem com­mon­place. And, unlike Europe to Africa, South America has vast areas of sim­i­lar grow­ing con­di­tions and sup­port infra­struc­ture. As a result, American con­sumers – North, Central, and South – are able to enjoy fresh agri­cul­tural prod­ucts year round. Because of this syn­chronic­ity of sea­sons and grow­ing con­di­tions, all the ingre­di­ents required to pre­pare a fresh mari­nara sauce are eas­ily avail­able year round, whether you are in Chicago or Santiago.

This rela­tion­ship is even more enhanced by the recently final­ized Free Trade Agreements between the US and Canadian gov­ern­ments and indi­vid­ual nations through­out Latin America and the regional trade alliances through­out South America. South America is the United States’ fastest grow­ing regional trade part­ner. Between 1998 and 2009, total U.S. mer­chan­dise trade (exports plus imports) with Latin America grew by 82% com­pared to 72% for Asia (dri­ven largely by China), 51% for the European Union, 221% for Africa, and 64% for the world.

The United States has imple­mented com­pre­hen­sive bilat­eral or multi-lateral rec­i­p­ro­cal trade agree­ments with most of its impor­tant trade part­ners in Latin America. These include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and bilat­eral FTAs with Chile and Peru. FTAs with Panama and Colombia have been signed but not imple­mented, pend­ing con­gres­sional action.

The Expoalimentaria in Lima ini­ti­ates a new moment in South America agri­cul­tural inter­na­tional trade out­side of Latin America. Since 1991, with the Treaty of Asuncion, the orga­ni­za­tion know as Mercosur, a trad­ing alliance between Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay – as well as recently Venezuela – has been emerg­ing to form the “Common Market of the South.” It is an eco­nomic and polit­i­cal agree­ment to pro­mote the free move­ment of goods, ser­vices, and peo­ple among mem­ber states. Mercosur’s pri­mary inter­est has been elim­i­nat­ing obsta­cles to regional trade, such as high tar­iffs and income inequal­i­ties. Mercosur is the fourth largest trad­ing bloc in the world with 260 mil­lion peo­ple and over $2.9 tril­lion col­lec­tive GDP.

Additionally, Mercosur has five asso­ciate mem­ber coun­tries, the CAN (Andean Community of Nations) coun­tries – Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. These addi­tions in essence form a uni­fied trad­ing bloc of nations with stan­dard­ized tar­iff and trade requirements.

In the café

Although some in the cof­fee world would hotly debate this truth, a cof­fee­house is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered a food­ser­vice retail oper­a­tion with an empha­sis on the prepa­ra­tion of cof­fee: very sim­i­lar to an Irish bar being a food­ser­vice estab­lish­ment that spe­cial­izes in Irish beer and whisky. Besides the weather, the big rea­son that all those cof­fee carts moved indoors was to remove the lim­i­ta­tions of space and sales poten­tial. The carts found that by lim­it­ing their oper­a­tion to only the prepa­ra­tion of cof­fee, the abil­ity to make a liv­ing was thin at best. The sav­ior was food and asso­ci­ated prod­ucts. Food sales typ­i­cally rep­re­sent 16% of the total sales in a café, but an oper­a­tor can­not ignore the bounce hav­ing food present gives to over­all sales and traf­fic. If only one per­son on a four-drink ticket orders food in your café, that is actu­ally four drinks that oth­er­wise may not have hap­pened if you didn’t serve at least some food.
Café own­ers gen­er­ally source their food prod­ucts one of two ways – either locally sourced and pro­duced or through gen­eral food prod­uct ven­dors. If you source your food prod­ucts through tra­di­tional venues such as whole­sale clubs, food­ser­vice dis­trib­u­tors, allied prod­uct dis­trib­u­tors, and the like, you likely are buy­ing prod­ucts from South America for at least part of the year.

Consider your spe­cialty juices, fresh fruits, bananas, avo­ca­dos, and sal­ads: even processed meats, flour, cheese, and nut items. These may have found their way to you from the same coun­tries that also send you your cof­fee. (At least if it is win­ter in North America)
As an indus­try, spe­cialty cof­fee has been sen­si­tive to the way it sources cof­fee since well before the SCAA was founded. However, how much atten­tion do we give to the other prod­ucts we sell? Social respon­si­bil­ity is not just about the cof­fee, and if that is where it stops for you then per­haps you might give this some thought. Much of the fresh and frozen food prod­ucts we import from South America start out in sim­i­lar places as cof­fee – small farms, orchards, dairies, and ranches. Poor and exploited farm­ers are as sig­nif­i­cant a part of the food we eat as they are in the cof­fee we drink.

Take a moment to review your total prod­uct pre­sen­ta­tion and reassess your prac­tices to ensure that you are eth­i­cally well grounded in all you sell.

Coffee Corps Wants You! New Database Online

Categories: 2012, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description

The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) is an inter­na­tional non-profit orga­ni­za­tion with an inti­mate under­stand­ing of cof­fee indus­try needs and years of expe­ri­ence in the devel­op­ment of effi­cient cof­fee mar­ket link­ages, tech­ni­cal assis­tance, mar­ket devel­op­ment, and capac­ity build­ing in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Our tech­ni­cal assis­tance, busi­ness solu­tions and inno­v­a­tive approaches to eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity allow cof­fee pro­duc­ers to not only improve their income today but to make invest­ments for the future and the future of their communities.

CQI’s Coffee Corps™ Volunteer Program, estab­lished in 2003, pro­vides train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance to small-to-medium sized pro­duc­ers by match­ing coffee-industry experts with farm­ers and asso­ci­a­tions at ori­gin. These highly skilled pro­fes­sion­als are will­ing to donate their time and exper­tise to pro­vide train­ing aimed at improv­ing the qual­ity of cof­fee as well as the lives of the peo­ple who pro­duce it. These vol­un­teers help grow­ers improve their pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing meth­ods, and train roast­ers, pack­agers, exporters, baris­tas and café own­ers about qual­ity con­trol processes and marketing.

The mis­sion of the Coffee Corps is to enhance the liveli­hoods of cof­fee farm­ers, work­ers and entre­pre­neurs in devel­op­ing coun­tries and to help ensure a reli­able sup­ply of qual­ity cof­fee prod­ucts for the world. The Coffee Corps brand and logo is a trade­mark of the Coffee Quality Institute.

NEW APPLICATION: A new Coffee Corps data­base has been devel­oped and all new and cur­rent vol­un­teers are required to com­plete a new appli­ca­tion to stay active in the pro­gram. The appli­ca­tion is avail­able under Coffee Corps on the CQI web­site www.coffeeinstitute.org.

Coffee Corps vol­un­teers are deployed to ori­gin to help address locally iden­ti­fied needs in a vari­ety of ways, includ­ing pro­fes­sional train­ing in the fol­low­ing areas: cof­fee cup­ping and qual­ity assess­ment, roast­ing, pro­cess­ing, qual­ity con­trol, mar­ket­ing, barista skills, cof­fee lab devel­op­ment as well agro­nomic and envi­ron­men­tal issues. Coffee Corps vol­un­teers have worked in most of the cof­fee pro­duc­ing coun­tries in Central and South America, Indonesia and East Africa.

How Can I Help?

The Coffee Quality Institute and Coffee Corps do not pro­vide direct financ­ing for any projects. Our activ­i­ties and project sched­ules are deter­mined not only by need, but fund­ing sources and oppor­tu­ni­ties. The strength of our pro­gram is the cal­iber and deter­mi­na­tion of our vol­un­teers and their will­ing­ness to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant pro­fes­sional train­ing and con­sul­ta­tion. For more infor­ma­tion please visit www.coffeeinstitute.org.

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.