The Peruvian Project
Our wholesale bean suppliers are heavily involved with working with growers and we are supporting this project. The aim of the project is to get great coffee while improving the actual take that the farmers get themselves. The more farmers can grow coffee and make a good living, the fewer of them will need to turn to more illicit crops; we get the benefit of really high quality coffees grown on small lots where our suppliers can manage the production from growing, harvest, sorting all the way through the processing cycle.
We are wholeheartedly supporting this project.
Historically, our suppliers have been working in Northern Peru for many years, buying specialty coffee from cooperatives and associations. This is the conventional way of sourcing in Peru and gives farmers associated with these groups a market for their coffees, and some stability during times of local or C-Market fluctuation.
With our suppliers interested in the development of high grade specialty coffees, as well as ensuring the growers get premium prices for producing premium grade coffees. For these reasons our suppliers decided they needed to change the way they buy coffee in Peru and to work directly with producers, allowing them to control and improve upon existing quality and have full financial traceability. Ensuring these two factors would help to get higher grade coffees and to make sure that producers received a fair price for the coffee they delivered, a price above the standard market price. In order to do this, they set up a warehouse in Jaen and started to buy in parchment directly from producers.
The Cajamarca region holds a lot of potential for quality coffee, with ideal growing conditions and great varieties, but historically this quality was often lost in picking, processing and drying, with producers lacking infrastructure and knowledge. The most vulnerable producers are those that are unassociated – those who aren’t members of a cooperative, association or organisation – and they represent 75% of producers in Northern Peru. They also represent the greatest potential for growing really good coffee.
Natively these producers had little or no access to training sessions or indeed the premiums for quality or certifications, and their income was totally dependent on the market price. Often, local aggregators – a buyer who lives in the same area – will come to the farm or house of a producer and buy their coffee for cash before selling it on; in some cases directly to an exporter or more often to other traders and middlemen.
This results in the producer being paid very little for their coffee and a lot of high quality coffee is lost.
Our suppliers now have a field team – led by their Head of Specialty Sourcing, Simon Brown – who identifies producers and producer groups across Jaen and San Ignacio. Samples are taken from each bag and these samples are then analysed and yield calculated, before it is sample roasted, cupped and graded.
The price is determined by the cupping results and producers were paid in full on the same day, with premiums being able to be paid the better coffee – in most cases the farmers are receiving double the standard market rate. This is the incentive to carry on growing top quality coffee and continually improving.
This shift in approach to sourcing allows them to forge long term relationships directly with farmers, improve the coffee quality we can offer from these areas and increase producer household income through access to quality premiums. There are now have over 300 registered farmers, who will all be trained on farm management and picking, processing and drying by our agronomist, Auber Terrones Rojas.