The Cochalan lot is a blend of coffees from 12 different producers in the Jaen and San Ignacio provinces of Cajamarca in Northern Peru. The blend is named after a town that sits between the two provinces. Day lots from producers all over Cajamarca were purposefully blended together based on cup profile, one typical of the region, full of dried fruits, chocolate and a pronounced citric acidity. Producers in Northern Peru have their own hand pulping machine and fermentation tank where they process the coffee before drying it on their patio or raised beds in their farms. The main variety grown by these producers is caturra, with some still growing typica, pache and bourbon. Once dry, the coffee is delivered bag by bag to the Falcon warehouse in Jaen, where it was analysed, cupped and graded and producers paid in full the same day.
We have been working in Northern Peru for several years, buying from cooperatives and associations and whilst a lot of the arrival quality was good, we struggled to consistently deliver the quality we’d like. Not only that, the premiums we pay for quality don’t often make it back to the producers, and we have very little control over this. For these reasons we decided we needed to change the way we buy coffee in Peru, and work directly with producers, to be able to control and improve the quality and have full financial traceability. In order to do this, we set up a warehouse in Jaen and started to buy in parchment directly from producers.
The Cajamarca region holds a lot of potential for quality coffee, with ideal growing conditions and great varieties, but quality is often lost in picking, processing and drying, with producers lacking infrastructure and knowledge. The most vulnerable producers are those that are unassociated, who aren’t members of a cooperative, association or organisation, and they represent 75% of producers in Northern Peru. These producers don’t have access to training sessions or premiums for quality or certifications, and their income is totally dependent on the market price. Often, local aggregators, a buyer who lives in the same area, will come to the farm or house of producers and buy coffee their coffee, cash in hand, and then sell it on, in some cases directly to an exporter or more often to other traders and middlemen. This results in the producer being paid very little for their coffee and a lot of quality coffee is lost.
Our field team identified producers and producer groups across Jaen and San Ignacio, who brought their parchment to our warehouse in Jaen, where it was weighed, and a sample taken from each bag. The green sample is then analysed, and yield is calculated, before it is roasted, cupped and graded. The price is determined by the cupping results and producers are paid in full the same day, with premiums well above the market price, in most cases double. We have over 300 registered farmers, who will all be trained on farm management and picking, processing and drying by our agronomist, Auber Terrones Rojas.
This shift in approach to sourcing will allow us to forge long term relationships directly with farmers, improve the coffee quality and increase producer household income through access to quality premiums.