Peru’s northern Andes are lush, humid, mountainous, and a kind of visceral threshold between the drier Pacific slopes and the cavernous and rainforested lowlands of the Amazon basin on the eastern side. The highlands here are broad and varied in elevation and microclimate. Coffee has had a dominant presence here for decades and the northern departments of Cajamarca, Amazonas, and Piura are well-established in the marketplace for their certified cooperatives representing tens of thousands of smallholder farmers, as well as the high quality potential throughout the region.
Cooperativa de Servicios Multiples Juan Marco El Palto (JUMARP) is a small and focused cooperative in northern Peru that manages coffee from more than 300 farmer associates. The cooperative was formulated in 2003 with 35 local producers in the Lonya Grande district, part of the greater Amazonas department, and now the coop represents coffee growers across the highlands of Amazonas, as well as neighboring coffee powerhouse department, Cajamarca. During the years since its inception, JUMARP has made a name for the “El Palto” terroir, named after the highlands encircling Lonya Grande, and was also one of the first cooperatives to successfully process coffee beyond the traditional fully-washed standard—today they regularly offer natural and honey process lots, most often from single famers within the group.
In Peru by far the bulk of coffee production comes from small farms owned and managed by people who have for many years followed organic farm management practice attuned to their cultural connection with the land. Producers, like Valentin and the rest of JUMARP’s associates, typically cultivate coffee on just a few acres of land intercropped with shade trees, fruits and vegetables. Small producers are often very careful about picking and sorting their cherry prior to drying the coffee, all on personal equipment and on personal property. While producers design farm management and post-harvest solutions to fit their varying needs, they also need a strong business alliance to bring their coffee to the international market and earn fair prices, regardless of whether the coffees are blended or sold independently.