Name: La Huaca
Producer: Various Smallholders
Origin: La Huaca, Huabal, Cajamarca
Altitude: 1750-1900 metres above sea level
Flavours: Strawberry, Mango, Brown Sugar and Cream
Cup Score: 85.5
Where is it from?
This lot is a blend of day lots from the La Huaca village in the Huabal district. Coffees from La Huaca have a very distinct cup profile, which is due to the micro-climate in the area - very humid and wet - and also the deep red, African-like soils. Nevertheless, despite all the quality potential, producers in the area have struggled to produce high-quality coffee in the past, with a lack of infrastructure and a challenging climate often resulting in defects and lower cup quality.
The producers in La Huaca all have between 1 and 3 hectares of land and mostly grow Castillo, Caturra and Bourbon varieties. All of the producers pick and process their coffee themselves. Once picked, cherries are de-pulped and fermented for around 24 hours, usually in bags as very few producers in La Huaca have tanks, before it is washed and placed on a patio to dry. In this area, it takes a little longer than average to dry coffee, normally around 20 days.
Huabal is a district is within the Jaén province of Cajamarca and is one of the strongest areas for members and quality. Huabal has a huge amount of potential for quality coffee, but due to very poor infrastructure, many of the producers lack resources and knowledge to unlock that potential. Altitudes in the area range from 1200 to 2100masl. Many producers in Huabal had been regenerating their farms with Catimor, which had been promoted by the government and multinational buyers, and in some altitude ranges and good management, have given great results and produced decent cup quality, but the higher altitudes rarely produce much and the quality is poor. Now with the premiums that they’re receiving for quality, more and more producers are re-planting Caturra, Bourbon and Catuai, which can yield higher and produce much better quality coffee.
Huabal is made up of various villages, which are centres of coffee production and each producer belongs to a village. Since Huabal spans a couple of mountains the climate conditions and soils can vary considerably, with some areas having wet, humid conditions and red, African-like soils and others dry and hot. This all contributes to diverse and delicious cup profiles and some very complex coffees.
One of our importers, Falcon Coffee, has been working in Northern Peru for several years, buying speciality coffee from cooperatives and associations with whom they have built lasting relationships. Whilst a lot of the arrival quality in previous seasons has been good, they struggled to see an impact upon that quality or make improvements in the supply chain. More importantly, the premiums that they have been paying for quality was rarely making it directly back to producers, something they have had very little control over in previous years.
In Peru, like some other origins, coffee farmers are sensitive to market changes and often lack basic training and the incentive to produce higher qualities of coffee, as premiums often don’t materialise. For these reasons falcon decided to change the way, they bought coffee in Peru and work directly with producers, allowing them to control and improve upon the existing quality and have full financial traceability. Ensuring these two factors helped them to pay higher prices for the coffees and to make sure that producers received a fair price for the coffee they delivered , above the 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 the quality is 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. These producers don’t have access to training sessions or premiums for quality or certifications, and their income is 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 quality coffee is lost.
This shift in approach to sourcing will allow Falcon to forge long term relationships directly with farmers, improve the coffee quality and increase producer household income through access to quality premiums. They now have over 438 registered farmers across the San Ignacio and Jaen provinces.
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