We were fortunate to be in Villa Rica for the 45th Annual Coffee Festival this year. Running from July 18th through the 28th, this festival not only spotlights coffee, but features a marathon, daily tours of local coffee farms, music, and delicious foods at an ongoing Gastronomic Fair aptly named “With the Flavor of Coffee.”
The festival offers a chance to meet with local producers, learn more about everything coffee, and sample many fine local javas. The municipality of Villa Rica had a display showing the various phases of coffee growth from seedling on, as well as a collection of various types of coffee plants, where one can see the difference between each variety.
Best Coffee in the World
This year Villa Rica was proud to receive the “Best Coffee in the World” award at a judging in Paris, France. The coffee is wonderful (we bought a bunch!) The shady cloud forest and rich soils produce exceptional flavors in the cup. Moreover, Villa Rica is a beautiful area, at over 5,000 ft elevation, days are bright and sunny, yet nighttime temps typically drop into a very comfortable sleeping range. Lush green mountains, and an interesting mix of Austro-German, Yanesha, and Andean culture make for a unique Peru experience.
Villa Rica is located in the Province of Oxapampa in the “Selva Central” or Central Rainforest. It has an almost Colorado feel though as one sees many “chalet” type homes, and the use of wood appears much greater here than in many other Peruvian towns. During the 1850’s up to the early 20th Century there were a considerable number of German and Italian colonists who migrated to this area, and although they are largely assimilated with the existing natives today, their influence is quite evident.
Within a short driving distance are many noteworthy sites. including waterfalls, Laguna El Oconal, as well as several natural preserves, and the capital of Oxapampa is also worthy of a day trip.
This years Coffee Festival
We made our way from our nearby hotel, and down to the Plaza de Armas (affectionately known as “the park” by locals.) There are quite a few visitors, and the smells of delicious food wafts up from the Gastronomy area, and we’re reminded that it’s lunchtime. So before we start our tour, we catch a quick meal of pachamanca which is prepared underground using heated rocks and slowly cooked.
Very delicious and very traditional, a good pachamanca can hold one through the day into the evening. Next we’re off to check out this years exhibitors & sample some coffee!
We make a quick overview round and then slowed it down to take in the Festival booth by exhibitor booth. The Municipality of Villa Rica had a very interesting display and were very helpful. They seemed to have a real passion for coffee, and as this is the heart of the “Coffee Road,” it was fun to be with real coffee people surrounded by green mountains that contain enormous amounts of coffee.
Villa Rica is a fun, beautiful, and interesting place that quickly makes one feel at home. The Coffee Festival is worth a trip, and explorations around this beautiful area will reveal secret delights that I’ll share in future chapters. Meanwhile, drink more coffee…
© 2015 Ben Gangloff
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