La Flor del Norte is a village in the district of Huabal. La Flor is home to the first ever Cup of Excellence winner in Peru, Juan Heredia Sanchez, and his victory put La Flor on the map for quality coffee in Peru. La Flor has around 40 or so coffee producers, who mostly grow caturra, bourbon and typical, with some starting to plant catimor. The altitude ranges from 1700 to 2000 masl, with most farms around 1800masl. Like most of Huabal, the producers here don’t have much land, the average is around 1.5 hectares, and they mostly pick themselves and within the family and process and dry their coffee at their house.
La Flor is one of the villages which typifies the profile of coffee from high altitude areas of Huabal, with a very pronounced acidity and lots of citrus fruits in the cup. The climate in La Flor is quite cold and rainy, due to the high altitude, but this contributes to a very complex cup profile. There is huge development potential in La Flor, since producers lack basic infrastructure and knowledge, but the coffee still consistently reaches 85 points, we believe that with technical assistance the potential for high scoring lots is huge.
We have been working in Northern Peru for several years, buying specialty coffee from cooperatives and associations with whom we have built lasting relationships. This is the conventional way of sourcing in Peru and gives farmers associated with these groups some stability. Whilst a lot of the arrival quality in previous season has been good, we struggled to impact upon that quality or make improvements in the supply chain as we would like. More importantly, the premiums we had been paying for quality rarely makes it back to producers in the same, something we have had very little control over in previous years. In Peru, like some other origins, many coffee farmers are For these reasons we decided we needed to change the way we buy coffee in Peru, and work directly with producers, to be able to control and improve the quality and have full financial traceability. In order to do this, we 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 quality is often lost in picking, processing and drying, with producers lacking infrastructure and knowledge. The most vulnerable producers are those that are unassociated, who aren’t members of a cooperative, association or organisation, and they represent 75% of producers in Northern Peru. These producers don’t have access to training sessions or premiums for quality or certifications, and their income is 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 producers and buy coffee their coffee, cash in hand, and then sell 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 quality coffee is lost.
Our field team identified producers and producer groups across Jaen and San Ignacio, who brought their parchment to our warehouse in Jaen, where it was weighed, and a sample taken from each bag. The green sample is then analysed, and yield is calculated, before it is roasted, cupped and graded. The price is determined by the cupping results and producers are paid in full the same day, with premiums well above the market price, in most cases double. We have over 300 registered farmers, who will all be trained on farm management and picking, processing and drying by our agronomist, Auber Terrones Rojas.
This shift in approach to sourcing will allow us to forge long term relationships directly with farmers, improve the coffee quality and increase producer household income through access to quality premiums.