Tucked away in the fertile, northernmost municipality of Peru’s San Ignacio province, protected by groves of cedar and palm trees, a 4-acre patch of coffee grows under the name Finca la Palma. El Vergel settlement (caserío) is home to farmer Andres Guevara Ruiz and his wife Rosa Chinguel Neyra. They have a second farm as well… named El Cedral, for the cedar trees.
Andres has been living and working in coffee for his whole life, now 60 years old. His farms have beneficios on site for pulping and washing, but Andres spends particular attention on his drying, recognizing its importance in quality preservation. His trying tables are exquisitely constructed stacked beds inside a translucent parabolic drying structure, an important consideration in Northern Peru’s occasionally damp climate. Though coffee on La Palma harvests during the dry months, starting in June and finishing in October, the region can still get a few days of rain each month. Andres’s drying setup helps to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity as the coffee rests.
Andres Guevara Ruiz has been a member of the Sol y Café cooperative since 2008, the year it was founded. The organization provides financing for Andres’ necessities on the farm for fertilization and renovation. Sol y Café supports over 1000 farming families in northern Peru. The cooperative works actively to support its members, pursuing proactive experimentation to improve yields and quality.
The coffee is a little late to harvest and arrive by comparison to most of our bulked lots of Peruvian cooperative coffees, but that hasn’t dampened its intensity. We love its sweet complexity, and its juicy citrus and apple flavors, and are thrilled to release our first Crown Jewel from the country of Peru with this lot.
Andres Guevara Ruiz’s attention to detail in processing and drying has paid off: we have here a precision-dried, by-the-numbers coffee. Good moisture figures, medium-low water activity and relatively high density all make the case for a coffee that will retain its flavor nicely on the shelf. Moderately large screen size, if spread a bit, shouldn’t have a dramatic affect on the average roasting equipment. Feel free to roast with confidence on this microlot.
Peru’s coffee variety history, like most of the Americas, started with the introduction of the Typica variety by European colonizers. However Peru was relatively late to adopt coffee commercially, not becoming a major player on the global stage until the 20th century. Today, however, Peru is a powerhouse, and leads the league in Organic volume and is fifth overall in global Arabica production. Nearly 70% of the country’s crop is still heirloom Typica.
La Palma also grows Bourbon, Catimor, Caturra, and Pache. The diverse nature of Andres’ farm is encouraging – monoculture farms are at high risk for disease or other adverse conditions. To this effect, the 20% or so of La Palma that is planted with Catimor is of a unified purpose: high yields and disease resistance. Meanwhile, Caturra and Pache are of another ilk: trees with short stature than can be planted densely and harvested easily by hand, yet maintain the pleasant flavor characteristics of their heirloom ancestors. Both cultivars are naturally occurring mutations – Caturra is a Bourbon descendant first discovered in Brazil in 1937, while Pache is the Typica equivalent first observed in Guatemala in 1949. Viva la variedad!
This is a really lovely coffee with a bright citric acidity and lots of sugar. Looking for a balanced cup profile, I decided to roast this coffee at a solid medium level with one minute and 39 seconds post crack development time. With only one gas increase adjustment at 1:50, this coffee easily sailed through to the end of the roast. On the cupping table, this coffee tasted juicy and had a sweet malic acidity with a creamy mouthfeel. During the post crack development time, I turned the heat down a notch after 1:13 and let the roast slowly finish with a total of 1:39 minutes of post crack development time. A lot of Peruvian coffees, because of their large screen size, need to be roasted a little longer for internal development. On the cupping table, this coffee tasted juicy and had a sweet malic acidity with a creamy mouthfeel. If I was to roast this coffee again I would reduce my post crack development time and end the roast sooner to bring out more of the sweet clean acidity of this coffee.
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
This Peru is a rare bird. We haven’t had too many Peruvian Crown Jewels – oh wait, this is our very first Peruvian Crown Jewel!
Saving the best for last, this latecomer was so good on the arrivals table that it was sequestered for Crown Jewel use.
In the Behmor, this coffee started off fairly slowly, but seemed to accelerate through first crack. The crack wasn’t incredibly pronounced, but it did have a definite start. I engaged P4 directly at first crack, and after 1:15 of development time stopped the roast. I was happy with my 13.3% roast loss percentage, but I think I would have liked to engage P4 just a little bit before first crack if I were to do this again.
On the cupping table this coffee performed well, with stonefruit notes like peach and apricot. I caught a slight note of black pepper, and most people noted its brightness and cleanliness. This is a departure from your standard Peruvian coffees, which are usually sweet but lacking in anything but citric acidity. This Peruvian coffee is a safe bet, and a total crowd (Crown?) pleaser.