Right in the north of Peru, about an hour south of the border with Ecuador, is the city of San Ignacio, in the country’s Cajamarca region. This region is becoming known for producing really high quality coffee, with over half of last year’s Cup of Excellence winners producing coffee in Cajamarca, one of whom is Idelio Ulises Nayra Armijor, known as Ulises, who placed 12th with a mixed variety lot of Caturra, Catuaí & Bourbon from his farm, El Lechero.
A third-generation coffee farmer, Ulises bought El Lechero back in 2010 to continue the family tradition of working with coffee, and to improve his family’s quality of life. He lives at the farm with his wife Vicroia Ramos Llaczahuanga and their two children, Oliver & Felix. Their first proper coffee harvest was in 2013, when Ulises began to see his efforts being reflected in the coffee being well received by buyers willing to pay a premium based on the good cup quality. Nowadays sales from coffee makes up around 30% of the family income, who also plans plantains, corns and beans on the 2.5-hectare farm. They hope to expand the farm, planting more high-quality varieties for future harvests.
Ulises has a great attitude towards working with coffee, paying close attention at all stages of production and processing. A combination of high altitude, 1,870m, and a mixture of mostly Caturra, around 80%, and small amounts of Catuaí and Bourbon means that there is an excellent starting point for quality. During the harvest, Ulises employs around 10 pickers to help collect coffee cherries. They are paid by the ‘lata’ or bucket, rather than by weight, and provided with lunch. Emphasis is placed on selecting ripe cherries during each pass around the trees. These are then taken to the wet mill to remove the cherry skins using a small, powered depulper. The mucilage covered parchment coffee is then dry fermented in tiled tanks for around 24 hours before being fully washed, scrubbed and rinsed. They have an impressive drying facility, with two tiers of raised beds under a parabolic shade covering, with roof space available, replete with shade netting, to dry surplus coffee when the beds are full. Typically the lots take between 15 and 20 days to dry down to a tolerable moisture level of below 11.0%.
When we first cupped a sample from El Lechero it was on a table of northern Peru samples alongside Las Quebradas, which we released into our range this February. El Lechero stood out for its overall poise and structure, stone fruited qualities, great mouthfeel and intense sweetness, and we’re excited to have secured a few bags to roast and share with you.
El Huabo, San Ignacio, Cajamarca, Peru
Wonderfully round & sweet, look for notes of brown sugar & cooked cherries. A silky mouthfeel leads to a clean, chocolate finish.