Django's Travels: A Focus on Peru

Django's Travels: A Focus on Peru


Peru is a South American country situated in the Eastern part of the continent that shares its borders with five other countries, Colombia and Ecuador, Brazil on the East, Bolivia to the South East and Chile in the South. Along the Western part of Peru is the Pacific Ocean adding to the extreme diversity in terms of habitats and environments, ranging from the arid plains in the Pacific Coastal Regions, the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the tropical Amazon Basin in the East. The elevated Andes Mountain range that runs through Peru, from North to South, is a factor that makes the country the perfect place to grow and produce coffee.

It has a population of 30 million people which just like the environment is equally diverse. The main ethnic groups comprise of 45% Amerindian, 37% Mestizo (Mix of white and Amerindian) 15% White and the final 3% comprised of Black, Japanese, Chinese and other. The official recognised languages are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. [1]  To the Quechua Indians Peru means “land of Abundance” and Machu Picchu and Cusco are fine example of the wealth of the Inca Civilisation. The Spanish were able to build an empire from Peru’s Gold and Silver.[2]  (National Geographic.) The country ranks amongst the world’s top producers of silver, copper, lead and zinc and also has one of the oldest Petroleum Industry’s along with one of the world’s richest fisheries. [2] The exports in 2013 were worth $43.8 billion which made it the 59th largest exporting country in the world with coffee contributing 1.7% [3] James Hoffman equates this to approximately 4,200,000 60 kg bags of coffee being exported from Peru in 2013. [4]
Peru’s coffee economy mainly consists of roughly 200,000 small farms, producing Arabica beans at high elevations in very fertile organic soils. The main regional areas where coffee is cultivated is on the eastern slopes of the Andes in areas such as Chanchamayo, San Martin and Amazonas. Other regions include the old Inca area of Cusco and Junin. In Tristan Stephenson’s book he says that the biggest growing region however is Cajamarca State which is the North Western part of Peru. This area is responsible for 70% of the countries Arabica bean. [5] Peruvian coffees general taste profile is clean but a little soft and flat. [4]The flavours can be light, very bright, sweet but lacking in fruitfulness.

Coffee was first introduced to Peru in the 1700s by the Spanish but was only consumed locally. It wasn’t until 1887 that the first exports to Germany and England occurred. [4] Peru has not yet become a major player in the world coffee market, it is currently only the third largest exporter in South America and the ninth in the world. Peru has all the makings of a great coffee producing country but due to a varying and somewhat unpredictable climate, inadequate transport network and outdated farming practises it has fallen behind its competitors. It also has had a difficult history that has restricted the growth of its coffee economy. Before the 1970s coffee production was a market driven environment with relatively few buyers and a heavy emphasis on quantity and immediate supply. [6]

During the 1970s there was a sudden drop in growth of the industry due to government restrictions and then in the 1980s with emergence of the Maoist guerrilla insurgents, The Shining Path, which saw crops destroyed and farmers driven away from their land. This group was not just a problem for the coffee industry but for the Peruvian Society. James Hoffman also states that there were many political and business related challenges to overcome in the aftermath of the Shining Path and internal innovation was needed for Peru to become a world class specialty coffee supplier.

This innovation has been brought about in the shape cooperatives being set up with a heavy emphasis on Fair Trade and organic coffee. One example is CENFROCAFE. [7] CENFROCAFE was founded in 1999 and is currently based in Jaen. The intention of this cooperative is to help support commercial endeavours and facilitate development in communities. Currently they have more than 2000 farmer member of their cooperation serving 12 districts around the Cajamarca region.[8] The magazine Coffee Talk [6] says that 92% of coffee moved through CENFROCAFE is organic and 100% is fair trade. This helps the local farmers benefit from a fair wage for their work whilst also helping the community and helping find people who are wanting to buy the farms coffee beans. This has a great effect on the future for Peruvian coffee as more smaller farms will not only create a livelihood for more people but also adds to the diversity and flavours of coffee bean which is a dream for the speciality coffee roaster.