Featured Bean of the Week: Peru CAC Satipo

A farmer sews a bag filled with dried arabic coffee beans at a coffee cooperative in Peru's central jungle city of Chanchamayo, August 11, 2008. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

We received our first shipment of this coffee last Monday from Maniac Roasting. John brewed it for drip first thing on Tuesday. When I arrived he said, “You have to try the Peru. It’s amazing.” I poured  a cup and immediately agreed. What was most immediately noticeable was the mellow body, medium acidity, with a creamy light chocolate taste. Very smooth. What was surprising and exceptional were the brighter notes, not the citrus grapefruit elements you associate with the Central Americans, but more subtle aspects of peach and apricot. The structure of the coffee held up well even after it had cooled down, mellow sugars emerging to only enhance the profile. I can always tell when a coffee stands out be how quickly the “refillable customers” return for more. That first pot was gone before I could even get a second cup.

Once again, the crew over at Maniac Roasting has done an exceptional job of providing us with an excellent and unique coffee roasted to perfection.

Location: Central Selva, Junín Region, Peru, in Peru’s Eastern Mountains near the headwaters of the Amazon River.
Co-op Size: La Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Satipo Ltda (CAC SATIPO LTDA) was founded on 07 of November 1965; currently has 945 producers members, which are devoted to organic farming in coffee and cocoa. [source]
Production: 6 Agrarian Cooperatives among them, CAC La Florida, CAC Satipo, CAC Pangoa, CAC San Juan of Gold, CAI Naranjillo and CACE Alto Palomar; in total groups of 3700 producers who manage 13,500 hectares with a production volume of 140,000 quintilles of exportable coffee. [source]
Average Farm Size: 2 Hectares (2.47 acres) [source]
Species: Arabica
Predominant Varietals:  Typica, Bourbone, Caturra, Catuai
Soils: Volcanic
Climate: an average annual temperature of 13.1°C (56°F), a maximum high of 17°C (62°F) and a minimum low of 0°C (32°F). Conditional upon the Humbolt Current.
Harvest Season: May to September
Processing method: Wet-Milled
Drying method: Sun-Dried
Acidity: Medium
Certifications: Fair Trade, Organic

From the CAC Satipo Site (translation):

The Agricultural Cooperative Coffee Farmers “Satipo” Ltd. is an organization that represents the coffee and cacao growers in the area of Central Selva, Junín Region. CAC – Satipo, employing economic, social and cultural practices of democratic development, is creating new partners and alliances with small and medium businesses based on cooperative principles to assist in the production of organic coffee and cocoa.

CAC Satipo

From Coffee From Peru – History and Background By Timothy S. Collins:

Coffee was introduced to Peru in the late 1700′s. The Typica varietal of Arabica still accounts for about 35% of the country’s exports. The Bourbon varietal was introduced in the 1950′s. Combined, these two varietals make up about 60% of the Peruvian coffee production. Peru exports primarily newer varietals such as Caturra and Catimor.

Peru has everything to be a leading coffee producing country in multiple categories but it is not. Why is that?

* Peru has the high altitudes and partial shade desired for Coffea arabica in much more readily available land quantities than other coffee growing areas such as Jamaica or Hawaii.

* However, Peru faces challenges becoming a leader in coffee production because of its informal economy, lack of modern highways and somewhat primitive transportation networks to bring products to market.

* Peru’s agricultural commodities include, among others, coffee, maize, asparagus, rice and potatoes. Peru has gained wide acceptance in the organic coffee category through careful planting and harvesting practices that are growing each year.

CAC Satipo

From Coffee from Peru: what do coffee, the Incas, European immigrants trekking the Andes and “organic growing” have in common?

The Incas put in place artificial terraces everywhere. They did this on Andean slopes at will and they also reclaimed vast amounts of land from valleys. The Incas went to an extreme in rebuilding and changing the geography of Peru. Inch by inch, literally, they terraced huge portions of the Peruvian territory and even changed the course of rivers to meet irrigation needs.

As needed, the Incas filled in the land behind strong walls adding layers of fertile soil, two to three feet deep. The Incas benefited from geographical and soil conditions that prevented terrace erosion. This greatly facilitated how they irrigated the terraced lands.
For example, they placed large stones with deep grooves lengthwise that essentially channeled water as spouts onto the terrace walls without excessive water splashes that cause erosion.

It is a recognized fact by expert botanists that the Incas cultivated more kinds of foods and medicinal plants than any other culture in the world.

Coffee was introduced to Peru in the late 1700′s. The Typica varietal of Arabica still accounts for about 35% of the country’s exports. The Bourbon varietal was introduced in the 1950′s. Combined, these two varietals make up about 60% of the Peruvian coffee production. Peru exports primarily newer varietals such as Caturra and Catimor.

From Fair Trade USA:

In 1965, 50 coffee producers from Junín, Peru came together to form CAC Satipo (Cooperativa Agraria Cafetelera Satipo Ltda.). Before organizing, producers relied on intermediaries who paid low prices for their coffee. Communities were poor and lacked access to schools and medical care. By forming a cooperative, members hoped to cut out middlemen and increase profits from coffee sales, which would help to improve the quality of life for producers and their families.

Since becoming Fair Trade Certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) in 1997, CAC Satipo members have been able to receive higher, more stable prices for their coffee, as well as support a variety of social programs in their communities.

From Trip Wolf: East of Chanchamayo Travel Guide:

A 123-km paved road leads from Chanchamayo to Satipo. At Km 20, the confluence of the Chanchamayo and Paucartambo rivers forms the Río Perené. The road follows the river, winding through lush jungle and Asháninka villages, where indigenous artefacts are often for sale. At Km 70, palm-thatched huts signal the outskirts of Pichanaki.

A few years ago this village represented the remotest of Peruvian outposts, but its fertile lands and warm climate were ideal for coffee, bananas and citrus. Tens of thousands of Andean campesinos flocked to the region in search of jobs and land. A paved road reached the town in 1999 and it is now the commercial hub of the region. Its long sandy beaches on the Río Perené make an ideal retreat from the encircling jungle and a jumping-off point to visit the waterfalls, lakes and remote indigenous villages in the area. During the dry season (April-August), the town’s plaza and streets are covered with drying coffee beans.

From Peruvian Middle Jungle Towns:

A real jungle frontier town where the indigenous Ashaninka Indians come to buy supplies and trade, SATIPO is accessible by a three- to four-hour bus ride east from La Merced. First developed around the rubber extraction industry some eighty years ago, it now serves as an economic and social center for a widely scattered population of over forty thousand colonists, offering them tools, food supplies, medical facilities, banks and even a cinema. With the surfacing of the road all the way from Lima, a veritable carpet unfurling through the jungle valleys, many more recent settlers have moved into the region, but the rate of development is putting significant pressure on the last surviving groups of traditional forest dwellers, mainly the Ashaninka tribe, who have mostly taken up plots of land and either begun to compete with the relative newcomer farmers or moved into one of the ever-shrinking zones out of contact with the rest of Peru. You’ll see the tribespeople in town, unmistakable in their reddish-brown or cream cushma robes. Satipo is the southernmost large town on the jungle-bound Carretera Marginal, but the road is continuing further and should soon reach Puerto Ocopa [Ocopa port] – a passable dirt track already does, and buses travel along it – from where it’s possible to get river boats down the Río Tambo to Atalaya.


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About Scot Casey

Owner/ Poetic Terrorist / Barista / Graphic Designer at The Black Drop Coffee House. Also, Hermit / Recluse in Residence at Laughing Bone Design Labs
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