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Exploring Peru

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Keith Tomlinson, Peace Coffee Staff

It is with great humility and excitement that I introduce our most recent quarterly coffee offering here at Peace Coffee. This single origin Full City Roast Peruvian coffee comes as a result of a trip that I took to Peru last June. While in Peru as a part of a trip with Cooperative Coffees, the importing vessel that we are members of, in the city of Jaen we were given a tour and demonstration of the extensive quality control measures, grading systems, and paying options that are a part of the structure of Cepicafe. Cepicafe is an association in Northern Peru near Ecuador and a member of the larger association Cenfrocafe.

We watched as five 100 pound bags of pergamino were brought to the central offices in Jaen by a farmer from the greater community. Pergamino is a stage of coffee right before it is considered green coffee, characterized by a dry husk that still remains on the outside of the bean and is later removed at a central dry mill. There is one man who checks in every bag of pergamino that comes into the warehouse, where upon a sample is created from the five bags and then processed by a machine designed to remove the dry husk. Once the dry husk is removed from the pergamino, he is left with what we call green coffee, and what is referred to in Peru as pilado, or oro. Oro is literally translated as "gold." From this sample, he then removes all of the defects within the coffee. Some examples of defects are insect damaged beans, beans black in color, beans that are exceptionally small or broken, and then pieces of foreign matter such as twigs or rocks. Based on how close the final weight measurement of the sample is to the original sample the coffee is given a grade. AAA and AA are the highest grade possible followed by A, B and C. Anything that scores below B is not export quality.

After having seen this process, we asked the general manager what grade coffee we had been receiving. He explained that we received an A and so our next question was, can we get AAA or AA? And so, because of the direct relationships that we have with the people we buy coffee from, we are able to greatly increase the quality of the coffee we are receiving and roasting, while working within a structure that Cepicafe established as one that works for them and their members. It allows members to be rewarded with higher prices for follow through on the feedback they receive from the agronomists on staff, and it raises the bar equally amongst all members of the association. So please -- enjoy this gorgeous coffee from Peru and know that you are a part of something that is tangibly changing the way our world relates.

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