This week in Real People, Really Good Coffee we’ll visit with our good friend:
David Torres Bisetti – Lima, Peru
Several years ago, I had the good fortune of connecting with David Torres Bisetti at the Mistura Gastronomy Fair in Lima, and through that association met the people involved in the Curibamba project in Chanchamayo, Peru. David is quiet with a soft spoken nature, but you quickly sense his dedication and expertise with coffee. It’s a passion in him that dates back to his grandparents in 1958.
Today, he’s the owner of two coffee shops in Lima, one in Larcomar in Miraflores, and the more recent Tostaduria Bisetti in the historic artist district of Barranco.
Specialty Coffee Shortage in Peru
Now one might say that it’s no big deal having a coffee shop or two, but the reality in Peru is that the specialty coffees are by and large earmarked for export. David has to tirelessly seek out the finest coffees in Peru, along the way sampling and testing many micro lots searching for the most flavorful beans. Keeping his customers satisfied with high quality java is truly his life’s devotion.
From an interview with David in CoffeeTalk, “Yes, sadly, most of the great Peruvian coffee goes straight out for export; coffee corporations and organizations here are not so familiar with the idea of selling this high-profile coffee in the local market. We always try to convince them otherwise; we say, “Don’t sell it all, leave some here – we have clients.” We never ask for a special price, since we are always ready to pay whatever their American or German clients pay, and we have now developed some great relationships with local suppliers, which allow us to use only the highest quality beans for our coffee needs. We are not greedy though; we don’t ask for exclusive rights to roast one’s coffee because good beans are meant to be shared between different roasters. We also let everyone know who the farmer is, and we never try to brand the beans as our own. This is our philosophy – to be fair to everyone involved in the industry.” Full interview here.
David has committed to improving the quality of coffee wherever he can. He’s a regular speaker at Mistura (Gastronomy Fair in Lima) as well as many other events, known not only in Peru, but in North America also. Any time spent with him will lead one to note his serious nature, and his intense enthusiasm for coffee. His fine roasts are sought by the best chefs & the most discerning clients.
David trained as a barista in New York, although long before he trained formally the family traditions had trained him to be not only a great preparer of coffee, but also a superb judge of flavor. He tells of a childhood where coffee was enjoyed by a young David, and instilled early the discerning palate and sensitive nose of a true coffee expert. His grandmother would give him a cup of coffee every day before sending him off to kindergarten!
His greatest fear? To lose his sense of smell. His favorite pastime? Roast, prepare and cup (taste test) coffee. His favorite fictional character? Wile E. Coyote for his iconic persistence. David says that he identifies most with Socrates of all historical persons.
World Aeropress Championships
So what does a real coffee guy do? Well, he hosts the Peruvian Aeropress Championships, of course, The Aeropress Coffeemaker debuted in 2005 to rave reviews. Loyal fans have increased every year, and now there are championships worldwide to see who can prepare the best Aeropress coffee. David hosted the first ever 2014 Peru Championship in Lima this past March 2014. Click here to learn more about the Aeropress.
The Curibamba Project
David has recently spent considerable time working with small coffee producers in the Chanchamayo (high rainforest) region of Peru. These farmers benefit greatly from his expertise in the best cultivation methods, proper selective picking, fermenting & drying, and all of the modern scientific methods known for enhancing coffee quality.
David partners closely with agricultural engineers who also dedicate tirelessly to help with everything from growing & harvest technique to pest prevention etc. As in any agricultural endeavor, it’s an ongoing battle against birds, animals, pests, and the now ubiquitous coffee rust that has plagued growers for many years now.
The Curibamba project is sponsored by the Edegel electric company, who is providing support to better the lives of the small rural farmers. David provides training seminars, field workshops, and laboratory testing in order to help these farmers better their product. We covered some of our early experience with the Curibamba project here.
The Curibamba project has been a reasonable advance for the small growers. Every year the overall quality of the coffee has been improved, and the farmers seem to take a real pride in producing better tasting, richer coffees. There has been a friendly rivalry between some of the producers to see whose coffee will rank the best. Hopefully, in future years the coffee can reach award winning status. In any event, the reality is that they are earning more money with their harvests & it’s of measurable benefit.
The Coffee Shops
David opened his first coffee shop Arabica in 2008. It has been a great success and earned him the respect of the coffee connoisseurs of Lima. It’s located in the LarcoMar shopping mall in Miraflores, the upscale part of Lima.
Several years later, David opened up the Tostaduría Bisetti (Roastery) in the hip artist district of Barranco. This cafe is considerably larger & allows for a comfortable setting, but more importantly has sufficient space for a laboratory. This allows David to host “cupping” sessions often, and permits more testing in search of better coffee.
One is treated to exotic names such as D’Ago, Café Apu, Finca Tasta; coffees which hail from the wide variety of coffee producing regions in Peru, each having its own history & tradition as well as distinctive flavor.
A visit to the cafe is living room pleasant, the wI-fi fast, and the ever changing ambiance is refreshing and fun. Out back is a small courtyard with chairs and tables, all very welcoming. It’s the perfect place to have a slow flavorful coffee, and enjoy the occasional marvelous aroma of fresh roasted java.
With that delicious cup of Americano coffee comes a tasty lemon bar, the perfect complement. It’s instantly addictive.
In the Coffee Lab
Above all, it is in the lab where David’s keen sense of smell & taste can reveal his expertise in coffee. With roasting mastery & an artists touch, he produces excellent flavors for the pickiest of coffee drinkers, and provides the specialty coffee which fetches up to $19/pound or more in Peru!
A coffee cupping is a treat that I’ll cover in another post, but here in the lab is where the cups are laid out, aromas savored, coffee slurped, swished and spitted, with always the hope of great coffees yet to be discovered. Maybe a particularly good harvest, fresh and flavorful, a gift from the coffee gods, a coffee lover can always hope.
Against the back wall (not in the photo) is a beautiful shiny coffee roaster. Manufactured locally by the IMSA company, David comments that he chose to go with a Peruvian company rather than one of the well known German roasters, and he’s been thrilled with the results.
In the picture below is a laboratory roaster (on the small table) specifically designed for exacting coffee tests. After a humidity check, everything is perfectly controlled from temperature of the sample roast to resulting precise color measurement of the roasted coffee beans. Each coffee sample must be roasted equally.
David is not one to sit quietly & enjoy his successes. Future plans include a café in Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP – the Catholic University of Peru,) as well as in the majestic Imperial Inca city of Cuzco. David even has his sights set on the Big Apple – New York City, planning on exporting his brand of coffee within the next several years.
We’re sure whatever David sets his mind to in the coffee world, it will be successful. His tireless spirit and dedication to improving the coffee experience is second to none.
©2014 Ben Gangloff
Did you enjoy this page? Have questions? Would like information on something to be posted here? Please drop us a line, sign up for our email list in the box to the right, or comment below.