alchemy series: pangoa cooperative
Monday, December 4, 2017
Tucked away in the central Amazon region of Peru, just east of the Andean mountain range, you’ll find the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa headquarters. The coop has experienced a long and colorful history, underscored with both good and hard times. Founded 40 years ago by a group of 50 farmers, Pangoa once had membership above 1,700 cooperative farmers. That number declined dramatically during the late 1980s as strife in the region led many farmers to leave their land for cities to escape violence. As peace came back to this area, more farmers are coming back and Pangoa's membership has evened out with nearly 700 farmers.
Reinvesting in the Cooperative
Pangoa represents one of our longest trading relationships and stands as an example of the benefits that well-managed cooperatives can give their members. Pangoa uses fair trade premiums (money added to the contract price as a result of fair trade certification) to offer members two essential programs: 1) the Educational Fund which allows members to borrow up to $2000 (US) to pay for their children’s university fees and 2) the Health Services Fund which offers members interest-free loans of up to $600 (US) to cover any medical attention they might need. Over the years Pangoa has added initiatives based on these premiums that also cover tree renovation, improve living conditions for farmers and their families, and offer investment in processing methods and equipment.
We chose to highlight Pangoa coffee as an Alchemy Series offering for a few specific reasons, not the least of which was to celebrate their 40th harvest of beautiful Peruvian coffee. This cooperative is an essential part of our coffee lineup, providing the smooth chocolatey notes in Birchwood Blend, Blue Ox Blend, and our Wonderland Park Espresso. Partially timing and partially festive, after tasting this coffee we could not help thinking about how well it would pair with our wintry weather.
A unique highlight for our roasters
After a few arduous rounds of roasting and cupping, we settled into a preference for a medium roast profile that shows the plum and brown sugar notes typically not highlighted when we blend with Pangoa. Our roasters have been brewing Pangoa in a French Press for a creamy body and deep unrefined sugar and raisin sweetness, and also love a Chemex brew which offers a different shine on this coffee including a more round body with clearer notes of black cherry, cacao nib, and cashew. We are so thrilled to share this coffee with you and highlight this amazing cooperative.
Centers of excellence
Pangoa was a recipient of a grant this year as part of Cooperative Coffees' Climate, Carbon, and Coffee initiative, where farmer cooperatives apply for funds to use to help their members deal with the effects or potential effects of climate change. As a member of Cooperative Coffees, we contribute $0.03 per pound to fund this and other projects with our farmer partners. Pangoa applied their grant to work strategically with 40 members by creating centers of excellence throughout the region that will bolster resources, education, and procedures that continue to help Pangoa stay ahead of changes and equip nearby farmers for a sustainable future.