The quality of coffee we are sourcing in Peru is outstanding, but the pandemic is affecting all of our producers.
I have said this before, and I will keep saying it: the quality of coffee we are sourcing in Peru is outstanding, given the low income, general lack of infrastructure, and scarce equipment for post harvest processing.
Peru has impressed us again this year, both in terms of quality, and the commitment from producers and our export partners. I can’t wait to see how this origin develops over the next few years. That said, it’s still a challenge to get consistently great coffee, and we feel privileged to be working with the people in our current supply chain who are doing the work to keep quality high.
The pandemic is, of course, affecting all of our producers, and Peru has one of the highest numbers of Covid-19 cases in Latin America. Farmers are struggling with dramatically increased costs, access to labour, picking cherries before they over ripen, delays in delivery of parchment and more. Generally it seems there will be fewer micro lots and more blends compared to last year.
The fact that we can’t travel to Peru, or other places where we source coffees, has definitely changed the way we work and communicate with our suppliers. Our plan was to go to Peru two to three times a year, for several weeks at a time. We have several projects we are eager to develop further, and extended trips to origin allow us to cup through hundreds of lots, making selecting and shipping much faster. Again, we feel so privileged to have dedicated coffee professionals working in our supplier companies in Peru. They have made a difficult process much easier with fast sample delivery. Plus, we had the opportunity to calibrate during our previous trips, which means they know which profiles we’re seeking and therefore which samples to send. Our philosophy on relationships, and our commitment to building long-term business opportunities along the value chain helps us a lot in times like this.
Due to the situation we went out early to both communicate our buying projections, and we also pre-contracted good amounts at fixed prices and quality levels before the harvest started. Since then we have had almost weekly conversations with our suppliers, we’re receiving plenty of great samples, and we are cupping and giving feedback as fast as we can.
The good news is that the quality from our programs has been fantastic, and we have seen good amounts of coffees on the 87+ levels already. Many producers in the higher altitudes are only half way through the harvest, so we’re expecting more top lots to come.
Nordic Approach continues to buy from as many of the same comites (producing groups) as before, both micro-lots from individual farmers, and their improved community blends, like Estrella Divina. We are also looking into an area called Colasay where I personally see great potential. I love the profiles of the coffees there, and they seem to have very good conditions in general. They are not used to earning premiums for quality, so they have a way to go on the post harvest processing, but with just minimal investment here we have cupped coffees above 88 points. It’s still early in the harvest, but if all goes well we will have some lots from Colasay for the next shipment.
We have also started to work with two small Cooperatives, Cedros and Selva Andina. We bought some small amounts from Cedros last year, and it worked very well for us. They are both under an umbrella organisation called Eleva Finca which supports them with training, quality management, and processing. Plus, they run a reforestation program that we are very proud of supporting. We pre-contracted both micro-lots and improved blends from them early on. Quality has been really good in general, and we’re expecting some real gems coming.