If you’re a coffee enthusiast at all, chances are you’ve heard of Peruvian coffee. It’s one of the most popular coffee growing regions in the world, producing a unique fruity flavor. But did you know that Peruvian coffee culture dates back to the eighteenth century?
From the time coffee first made its way to the mountains of Peru up to the present, coffee has been a crucial part of the Peruvian economy. Most of the coffee that comes from Peru is sourced from small farms, making it even more unique. Read on to learn more about Peruvian coffee and how it became the phenomenon it is today.
The History of Peruvian Coffee
Coffee first made its way to Peru around the 1700s, and the region became one of the first in South America to grow the beans. In fact, to this day, no one knows why or how coffee made its way to Peru before the rest of Central and South America. But throughout the next couple of centuries, coffee production grew and flourished.
In the late 1800s, a fateful disease changed the course of history for the Peruvian coffee industry. Up to that point, the world had relied on Indonesia and the surrounding countries for their coffee. But when a disease decimated Asia’s coffee crop, the rest of the world started looking at other countries for their coffee, and all eyes turned quickly to Peru.
During the first part of the twentieth century, Peru began exporting coffee on a large scale. England bought two million hectares of land and started setting up coffee plantations in Peru. It didn’t take long for coffee trade to begin making up more than half of the Peruvian economy.
But while the two world wars didn’t hit Peru as hard as they did Europe, those conflicts shattered the global economy. But Peru pushed through, farmers regained control of their land, and the coffee industry has continued to grow. Today, Peru is the number ten coffee producer in the world and the fifth-largest producer of Arabica beans.
Coffee Growing Regions
There are three main coffee-growing regions in Peru today: the central highlands, the northern highlands, and the southern highlands.
In the northern highlands, Chanchamayo accounts for about 28 percent of Peru’s total coffee production. Puno, Cusco, and Ayacucho in the southern highlands produce about 23 percent of Peru’s coffee. But Amazonas and San Martin in the northern highlands hold the largest percentage of the coffee production, with 49 percent.
Fair Trade Movement
After England sold their land in Peru, most of it went back to the local farmers, who established smaller coffee farms. In fact, the average coffee farm in Peru today is only about seven and a half acres in size. So it was only natural that in 2003, the Fair Trade movement would take hold there.
Many small Peruvian coffee farms band together and form cooperatives to share major expenses like drying mills and international exports. Not only that, there is a push these days to support women-run cooperatives in particular. And many farms are working to become fully organic as well, though that is a long and difficult process.
Peruvian Coffee Taste
Peruvian coffee has a nice medium body that falls somewhere between light Mexican coffee and heavy Sumatran coffee. The coffee also tends to have lower acidity levels, especially in the lower altitude growing regions. Those regions tend to produce coffee with notes of fruit, nuts, and flowers.
When you get further up into the mountains, those floral notes ramp up and become brighter. They feature a richer sweetness and tend to be more highly sought after than other beans. There can also be some other unique flavor profiles that are emerging as smaller have a chance to let their beans shine.
But in addition to their traditional prized beans, Peruvian coffee farmers are also producing some more specialized types of coffee. Chief among these is poop coffee – and yes, that is considered a desirable thing. This coffee started in Indonesia, and you may have heard of it by the name civet coffee.
After Peruvian farmers grow the coffee cherries, they feed them to coatis, adorable raccoon-like animals. The coffee beans make their way through the coati’s digestive system, and they poop them out. This digestion process reduces the bitterness of the coffee and takes on some of the flavors of the coati’s diet, which can improve the final coffee experience.
How to Roast and Brew Peruvian Beans
There are some specific roasting and brewing techniques that can help you make the most of your Peruvian coffee. In general, you want to go for a medium or dark roast on these beans. A medium roast will draw out toasty flavors in the bean, while a dark roast will pull out the natural flavor profile and floral aroma.
When you’re brewing Peruvian coffee, you’re going to want to use a drip coffee machine, an espresso machine, or a pour-over setup. These will help draw out the delicate flavor of the beans without overwhelming them the way a French press might. Experiment with different roasts and brewing methods to find the one that works best for you.
Try Out Peruvian Coffee
Peruvian coffee is one of the most well-known varieties in the world, and for good reason. The region produces a distinct, floral flavor with a delicate, medium body. If you haven’t tried Peruvian coffee yet, make sure you give this rich coffee with a rich history a taste.
If you’d like to try Peruvian coffee, check out the rest of our site at Intercontinental Coffee Trading. We’re specialty importers of fine green coffee, sourced and expedited from around the world. Check out our coffees and start stepping up your morning cup of joe today.