In August 2022, our coffee buyer, Matt McDonald visited five coffee cooperatives we work with in Northern Peru. Matt shares his takeaways and stories from the trip.
A craft where quality is everything
Every time I visit the coffee cooperatives, I am always impressed by the level of expertise and attention to detail used at every step of producing the green coffee beans that we buy. After hand-picking the coffee cherries and milling them to remove the pulp, the beans are fermented, washed and dried. This takes 2-3 weeks in total.
At every stage of the production there is a sharp focus on quality and the coffee is continuously sorted to ensure only the best beans are selected. Some cooperatives even have dedicated test sites to explore new varieties of coffee and production processes, so that the taste and quality of coffee are continuously improved.
Tasting the coffee is an important part of the process too, which requires the cooperatives to train highly skilled coffee tasters, called Q graders. Before you drink a cup of Cafédirect coffee, it has been tasted at least seven times to ensure it is the highest quality possible.
Some of the people I met
Don Noe is one of the most respected coffee farmers at La Prosperidad de Chirinos cooperative. Despite being 74 years old and being located on an extremely remote farm on a steep mountainside, his passion to learn and improve his coffee production inspired me. His dedication means he can grow some of the best (and most expensive) coffee in the world.
Luzmila has worked with us for over 30 years! Currently, she works for Fronterra cooperative, but she used to work for one of the three cooperatives that entrusted us with a container of coffee in 1991 to sell on their behalf.
Norandino cooperative participates in a reforestation project we set up in 2010, which provides them with income through the sale of carbon credits. It was great to hear that the project has big expansion plans and is providing a blueprint for other cooperatives.
I had a great afternoon meeting some of the team behind the Aprocassi cooperative. This farm is at a very high altitude (1,800m) and is managed by two families. They’re experimental and are using some really interesting coffee fermentation methods rarely found in Peru.
As business partners, we want to get to know the cooperatives we work with, personally. These trips allows us to build better relationships so we can understand their challenges and how best support them. It’s rare for buyers to visit their farms, and the cooperatives tell me that they feel part of a business that cares for their success. They often ask us what our customers want so that they can produce coffee they will enjoy – which is partnership at its best.