Exploring Peru Part 1
Throughout the next several months Utopian Coffee is releasing several very special coffees from Peru. Each blog post will explore a unique selection and give you insight into where the coffee comes from and what makes it so special.
Rutas Del Incas Cooperative
Chota Province, Cajamarca Region
Available through January
The most remote and mysterious destinations in the world produce some of the best coffees we’ve ever tasted. It would seem the harder it is to get to the place where the coffee comes from, the better it is.
Peru’s Chota province is one of those places. Chota is home to some of the highest elevations in the entire country, thanks to the Andean mountain range, and is known for its staggering beauty as well as its intense isolation. To this day Chota is home to many indigenous Incan people groups who still thrive through producing agricultural products. One of those products happens to be specialty coffee, and we can attest that the coffee produced by these groups is something truly special.
Though the remote and mountainous terrain of Chota provides the perfect context for growing specialty coffee, it does not lend itself to accessing the markets needed to sell the coffee for premium prices. Since most smallholder producers do not own means of transportation, the remoteness of their farm may be a huge detriment to their success in receiving premium prices for their coffees. The Rutas del Incas cooperative was established in 2013 with the goal of providing isolated coffee producers opportunities to engage with the high-end specialty coffee market and receive premium prices.
Cooperatives are very important for smallholder producers like those of the Rutas del Incas cooperative. At their core, cooperatives allow smallholder producers to come together and collectively gather and allocate resources in order to achieve goals, such as market access. In addition to market access, cooperatives provide consistent resources such as agricultural training and income diversification, both of which help improve the livelihoods of producers and their families. In remote communities, cooperatives can be life-changing and allow smallholders to finally receive fair payment for their work.
The Rutas del Incas cooperative has seen immense success and growth since its inception only 7 years ago. What started as a cooperative with only 33 members has now spread to more than 300 members in several different growing areas within the Chota province. Part of this success can be attributed to the cooperative’s relentless efforts to pursue quality over quantity. Instead of producing a lot of mediocre coffee, the cooperative produces a smaller amount of very high-quality coffee with a distinct focus on physical quality and uniformity, two features that help create the expressive flavors we love in this coffee!
Another part of what makes the Rutas del Incas such a unique and exceptional coffee is the elevation of the farms. In some areas, coffee is growing at altitudes upwards of 2000 meters above sea level. The climate at these altitudes is much cooler, and the result is a slower maturation (ripening) of coffee cherries on the tree. This slower ripening process leads to deeper and denser flavors in the seeds. Pair this with meticulous attention to the fine details of processing the coffee cherries after harvest, and what we have is a truly remarkable cup of coffee.
Utopian is proud to again be featuring coffee from the cooperative. We’ve found this coffee rides the line between complex fruits and comforting caramelized flavors that always leave us wanting more. We plan to grow our relationship with the Rutas del Incas cooperative in years to come because we believe in supporting their dedication to providing agricultural and financial support to all members of the cooperative.
This coffee displays aromas of red fruits and caramel with fruity flavors of nectarine and red pear with a lingering finish of candied-walnut.
Written by Nick Brehany – Manager of Sourcing and Roasting