Moyee Coffee currently roasts its FairChain coffee in Ethiopia. This business model has enabled us to both positively impact Ethiopia’s local coffee culture and provide the global coffee industry a fairer benchmark for its future. From the very start our ambition was to move beyond just Ethiopian coffee and incorporate other coffees and coffee cultures into our FairChain network. After all, the more regions roasting FairChain the more coffee we can offer our fans. Enter Peru. Not long ago Moyee’s Anne van der Veen, Moyee’s Fair Supply Chain manager, received an invite to visit the Latin American country to explore new opportunities. The following is an overview of Anne’s dispatches from the Peruvian Amazonas.
Fate brought Moyee and Peru together. We met them in Amsterdam and, weeks later, we received an invitation to visit the Peruvian Amazonas and connect with local coffee producers. It was an unexpected but unique opportunity to see if Peru had a bit of FairChain DNA to it. Off we go!
Coffee is probably not the first thing that comes mind when thinking about Peru. My knowledge of Peru doesn’t extend much beyond my detox quinoa salads and coca leaves that form the basis of the Western world’s favorite late-night illegal occupation. In my defense, Peru only began producing coffee about 30 years ago, so it’s hardly general knowledge that they have a coffee culture at all. In fact, in all the random Peruvian houses I entered, not a single one had even a simple coffee machine. What they did have was instant coffee. That doesn’t mean that things aren’t getting a bit geeky in Peru, though. I spotted some serious beans with my own eyes!
Coops are Peru’s backbone
Peru boasts very strong, social and sustainable coffee coops. Peru is very much like Ethiopia, where most of the coffee is produced by smallholders. Hardworking family farmers with about four football fields worth of coffee plants and a few vegetable patches for their own food. They unite in coops ranging from 50 on up to 3,000 farmers. The coops are designed to make farming life better. For example, almost every coop has invested in FairTrade and Organic certification for their farmers, have set up social programs to create better opportunities for women and are invested in environmental projects like reforestation. These coops are also looking beyond coffee monoculture and exploring fruits and cocoa and even guinea pig farms (and if I’m being totally honest here, these guinea pigs are being raised for local meat consumption. Sorry veggies!).
Peru boasts very strong, social and sustainable coffee coops. Peru is very much like Ethiopia, where most of the coffee is produced by smallholders.
The role of the coops in Peru is to source and pre-finance new equipment and farming techniques. I encountered a new drying technique that involved solar tents being used to store the beans after washing, which prevented them from getting wet in what I can only describe as a very wet rainforest. And finally, the coops are linking farmers to the market by helping them create professional-looking brochures and having a presence at coffee events. In short, even in Peru coops are the backbone of the coffee industry.
Peruvians know their Joe!
I was extremely surprised at the level of quality on offer in Peru. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this too loudly, as Moyee, like every other high-quality coffee brands, wants all the best beans to itself! The Peruvian government has gone to great lengths to create a unique proposition on the global coffee market, one that will allow its farmers to fetch higher prices for its beans. The attention to quality begins at the beginning of the chain: the coffee farmers themselves.
Even the smallest of smallholders – with, say, just 1 hectare of land – have simple pulping machines that enable them to wash their coffee cherries directly after picking. The machines peel the fruit flesh from the bean, after which time the beans ferment for 12-16 hours, then washed again and dried. The farmer delivers his dried beans directly to the coop, where they are stored and graded in their own Quality Labs for professional Q-graders. The coops don’t just score the coffee on premise, but also offer instantaneous feedback on cultivation, picking and processing techniques.
All Peru’s coop heads I met are young and ambitious and want to export their coffee to European drinkers.
Nowadays the cooperatives have a Q grader and a Quality lab; where they cup their coffees to define the quality giving it a number between 60-100. Last year, Jorge’s coops advised him to be more selective in his picking process, picking only ripe cherries and leaving the rest to pick later. He took the advice to heart and was rewarded this year with a 83 score, 2 points higher than last year’s yield. He told me this with a big smile. The higher score allows Jorge to sell his beans as a microlot with his own name on the bag! All hail Jorge!
The holy grail: local roasting
To our great FairChain pleasure, coops are slowly venturing into roasting their own coffee. We here at Moyee can only applaud that. They sell directly to consumers exclusively in their regional markets, however. However, all the coop heads I met are young and ambitious and want to export their coffee to European drinkers. This is good news for Moyee, but mostly good news for European coffee geeks.
Of course, if there is one thing we’ve learned over the last few years in Ethiopia, is that big dreams are not always easy to realize in coffee-growing countries. Creating a new export business takes time, persistence and radical innovation! (To better understand our trials and tribulations, read our latest Impact Report.) But I leave Peru deeply inspired. Back in the Netherlands, I’ll debrief the entire Moyee team and we’ll discuss What Next? Can Peru fit the FairChain model, are the partners reliable and is the market right? To be continued…
Hasta la revolucion!!!
For the hardcore fans, here are a few more pix below:
— Lith Montes from Cooperative Divisoria not only produces 85+ and 90+ coffees, but she even created her own premium gourmet coffee with exquisite latte art in her own Q’ulto café. Tasted and approved!!!
José Velasquez from Rio Tambo Cafe learned how to roast coffee in Vienna and has brought that knowledge back with him to his hometown in the Peruvian Amazonas!
Power chick Edith Meza from the Tasta Farm already produces top-notch green beans for US-based specialty brands, but now she’s launched her own brand of roasted Tasta Coffee that she’s already exporting to Australia.