It is our third year working with Agustin, through partnering with the Valle Inca Association based in Peru’s Cusco region, and we’re excited to roast this sweet and layered coffee from Finca Progreso for espresso.
Agustin and his family are living very remotely, in an area called Huaynapata in the Yanatile district near Calca, a small town in Peru’s Cusco region, and have been there since 1975. To visit him on his farm, we had to drive over some mountains at 4,500 metres, before descending to 2,150 metres where his farm, Finca Progreso, is situated.
Due to the remoteness of the farm, when José or any team member from Valle Inca, the association with whom Agustin is partnering, wishes to visit or collect coffee, they must first visit Quebrada. There, at the local radio station, they transmit a message to Agustin as they have no other means of communication; hopefully he's within earshot of the radio. Luckily our trip was pre-planned, so Agustin knew to expect us, greeting us on arrival. He and his wife have a very basic dwelling without plumbing, but solar panels to generate electricity and a wood burning oven in the kitchen.
With mineral-rich black volcanic soil his 3-hectare farm boasts incredible agricultural conditions for coffee. Predominantly growing Red and Yellow Bourbon, Agustin explained that coffee produced above 1,650m in Peru sees both Roya and Broca become much less prevalent. Rise above 1,850m, however, and these two major threats are, thankfully, all but non-existent. However, humidity is an issue in Huaynapata, so Agustin lets his trees grow tall, pruning back any growth on the first metre of the trunk to allow better ventilation between the trees, reducing the chance of moulds. The resulting willowy three-metre trees are too tall to harvest normally, so workers, armed with a rope and hook, bend the trees as they pick. They have the same workers returning year after year at Finca Progreso, with only 5 or so needed during the peak of the season.
In processing their harvested coffee cherries, they first float in water to skim off the less dense fruit. Fed through a manual disc depulper to remove the seed from the fruit, the depulped parchment is then sieved to remove any coffee cherry skins.
Experimenting in their approach to fermentation, they place the mucilage laden parchment coffee into GrainPro sacks and then seal in a plastic barrel. A tube allows for degassing, as the microbiome breaking down the coffee's mucilage produces CO2 during this stage.
After 24-36 hours, the fermented coffee is washed before being put out to dry on their tiered, raised beds in a ventilated secadore (solar dryer). As well as coffee the family are growing passionfruit, chirimoyas and rocoto chilli peppers.
We’ve been sourcing coffees through the Valle Inca Association for several years now, and this year they’ve expanded their reach to be working with 261 producers around the Cusco region. Whilst unable to visit with them directly in 2020 we caught up over zoom with José Prudencio, the association’s president, as well as the team from Promoting Peru, to learn about their new projects as well as challenges for the latest crop.
All the members are working organically and are certified as such via the Valle Inca group. For a member to join, there needs to be a baseline of quality met, dictated in part by altitude and the type of varieties planted, but ultimately it is down to the desire of each member to improve their quality through hard work. The group provide agronomical advice and training as well as pre-financing, so the farmer members are supported in multiple ways.
Huaynapata, Yanatile, Calca, Cusco Region, Peru
Creamy & coating, classic notes of chocolate & roasted hazelnuts fill out the cup. Flavours of dried cherry & persimmon add complexity, with a finish like sweet nougat.