June is flying by, and we’re busy with all of the details of buying green coffee beans. Cupping coffee is the first step in deciding which coffees to purchase, which ones to pass for this year, while trying to encourage the growers to continue improving quality.
Searching for Direct Market Coffee
This year is not like last year. Instead of being new to importing, and all that implies, we instead are familiar with the whole process from field to cup. So now the challenge is to seek out great coffees, and wherever possible develop one on one relationships with the growers consistent with our goal of all direct market coffee.
The reality of doing business in the coffee world is daunting. We are competing with well established large companies who have been importing specialty coffees for many years. Where we have a distinct advantage is the fact that we know Peru, and the “hoops” to jump through here to get everything moving along. We are discovering “new” coffees all the time via local producers in the best regions.
Waiting seems to be the main thing. Nothing ever happens quite in the time frame that one expects here, but in the end it all progresses. Internet is rarely good, and if it is, not for long. Things that should have been easy become more complicated and time consuming. Traffic in Lima is paralyzing at times, so the days can fly right by with seemingly little advancing.
We are simultaneously negotiating for several large and small quantities from several producers in Peru. Coffee is not static, and sometimes if you don’t commit right away you lose that micro-lot that had cupped so well in the lab in Lima.
Meanwhile, one must always be aware of financial and container constraints. It should be simple to estimate how much will fit in the container, however some of the coffee that we are buying is “parchment” coffee, meaning that we’ll have to process the coffee and will lose 15-20% by the time that we have green coffee beans ready for shipping. Should we use pallets or just ship bags? Every detail is critical.
We are keeping the hand to the plow, and on the task at hand. It’s very exciting, but at the same time a little nerve wracking.
The Curibamba Coffee Project
The Curibamba project is moving along nicely. We cupped half a dozen samples recently, and to our surprise they cupped as well as some of the “better” coffees in the mix. (Some even better!) The farmers are definitely improving their craft with each passing year.
The solar drying tents that we are donating this year are on their way to San Ramon where they’ll be distributed to the farmers that are ready to install them. We are hoping that over the next 3-4 years, we’ll have them at every coffee producing farmer in the project.
We had purchased a solar drying tent from a reputable company, and using that as a template were able to buy all the materials separately for a considerable cost savings.
With an average life of 4-5 years, by the time we’re done installing the last tents, the first will be degrading to the point of needing replacement for the plastic tent & new screening for the coffee drying table that is part of the system.
If at all possible, we plan on attending/helping/photographing an actual installation. We should know more when we meet in San Ramon at the end of this month.
Coffee lineup this season:
Curibamba – This is year three of the Curibamba Coffee Project, and we’re seeing wonderful results from the growers. We’re not expecting a huge quantity, but should have considerably more than last year. A bright acidity with light fruit & herbal overtones, plus a hint of nuts. This is the coffee that launched our company – A Little Further South. Your purchase helps support small family farmers as we buy this coffee directly from the producers. More Than Fair Certified.
Chasqui – this is a great coffee from a well know cooperative – Cenfrocafe. We’ve been enjoying this coffee for many years, and it’s one of our favorites. With a bright acidity and a nutty aftertaste with hints of oranges, this coffee is sure to please. We have committed to buying quite a few bags of this coffee, including some that is certified Fair Trade Organic.
Apu Gourmet – Also from Cenfrocafe, we’re negotiating for a small lot. Most of this coffee is exported to Japan. We feel that it’s perhaps the best coffee in Peru.
Chacra D’dago (Wet Processed) – We’re purchasing 5,000 pounds of this excellent water processed coffee. Certified biodynamic & produced using ancient agricultural methods in conjunction with a complete circle of composting & natural fertilizers, we’re pleased to be able to obtain some of this fine coffee. Excellent in the cup with fruity overtones & a crisp acidity, a wonderful cup. We buy all Chacra D’dago directly from the family.
For more about Chacra D’dago see our post here.
Chacra D’dago (Natural) – We don’t yet have a firm number on quantity yet, but we hope to have some limited quantities of this labor intensive, natural dried (no water used) coffee. Each selectively picked coffee cherry is carefully fermented, and dried with full cherry. In the lab, this coffee had amazing blueberry & cherry tones. I wanted some immediately upon tasting it.
Chacra D’dago (Honey) – Another that we don’t yet have a firm number on quantity, but hope to have some limited quantities of this honey processed coffee. In the lab, this coffee had excellent fruity tones, and a sweet aftertaste.
Horst Honey – A neighboring farmer of Chacra D’dago has been working hard to produce fine specialty coffee. We’ll have a micro-lot of this honey dried coffee. It also has excellent acidity & fruit overtones with just a hint of nuttiness. We feel that supporting this grower will yield some fine coffee in the future & this type of relationship is exactly what we try to build. We’re pleased to support via direct market purchase, this outstanding coffee. We’ll be visiting the farm later this month & will provide a pictorial look at that time.
In the Background
So now that we have a handle on what to buy, we have to pay for, ship to Lima, and store all this coffee while we prepare for loading the container & sending all to the Port of Long Beach, California. It won’t be long!
© 2015 Ben Gangloff
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