How special is the coffee that you drink? Esgar Delgado may have the answer!

In a small Peruvian village, Esgar produces specialty coffee. In the above short but entertaining interview, he talks about his passion for producing high-quality beans.

The physical properties of a parchment coffee sample from Esgar’s farm were analyzed at the quality control lab of Los Cedros in Jaen, Peru. A parchment coffee huller was used to remove the parchment skin from the coffee beans (watch “The Hulling Process” below for more details). The results were the following:

Moisture: 9.7%

Physical Yield*: 80.2%

* From “parchment coffee beans” to “green coffee beans”

What does producing coffee look like in Peru?

Peruvian Coffee Beans With History: Arsenio Rojas


This is a short conversation with a Peruvian coffee farmer, Arsenio Rojas. He tells us a little bit of everything and highlights the importance of direct trade. Let’s give him a thumbs up!

Ps. Another interview with a different farmer coming soon. Stay tuned!
Cheers!

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A Memorable Trip To Peru To Reconnect With My Fellow Coffee Farmers

I was planning on going to Peru for a few years, but in April of 2019, I finally visited my home country. During my trip, I enjoyed visiting the village where I was born and surrounding areas where farmers produce unique coffee. It’s undeniable that the aroma of coffee was everywhere during this trip, and of course, every farmer spoke the “coffee” language.

One of the first visits was to the district of Las Pirias. While there, I met two coffee farmers: Arsenio Rojas and Manuel Milian who live in small villages that are about 30 minutes apart from one another. Arsenio lives in ” El Mirador” with his wife and son cultivating coffee varieties such as Catimor, Yellow Caturra, and Costa Rica. Arsenio’s farms are already producing coffee and the harvesting season just started. The average altitude of the farms is 4,500 feet above sea level.

On the other hand, Manuel lives and cultivates coffee in La Mushca. He cultivates different varieties, but he is currently putting more emphasis on cultivating Geisha that is highly appreciated due to its quality. As an example, last February, he planted about 2.5 acres of Geisha and Catimor together. He is expecting to start picking the first coffee cherries in two years. The average altitude of his farm is 4,900 feet above sea level.

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The second place that I visited was the district of Huabal. I met Esgar Delgado and his family there. The rural village where Esgar cultivates coffee is called “El Huaco”. One of the many traits of this area is the altitude and the coffee varieties that perform well in these conditions. Caturra and Bourbon are the varieties with outstanding performance. Esgar has 3.7 acres of Yellow Caturra and 1.2 acres of Bourbon. His coffee is cultivated at over 5,900 feet above sea level. The harvesting season begins in July and he will be ready to share the goodness of his coffee with the world.

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My last trip was to the district of San José del Alto. I visited my family’s farms in “El Progreso”. A lot of great memories came to mind when I walked in the farms where I used to work during my youth. While looking around, I realized that the appreciated coffee cherries have already started to change color from green to red as a signal that the harvesting season is around the corner. Among the varieties cultivated are Catimor, Costa Rica and National. The average altitude is 4,200 feet above sea level.

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It’s evident that this trip was unforgettable. As presented, each village and farmer in Peru is unique; however, farmers speak the same “coffee” language: a language of hope to learn that their beans are highly valued and consumed by coffee lovers all over the world.

If you would like to connect with coffee farmers in Peru, please send me a message by using the contact button. Thanks!

A mini-documentary is coming soon about this trip. Stay tuned!

 

 

Would coffee farmers survive without producing and trading coffee?

When I was a kid, I clearly remember my father engaging in very amicable conversations with his fellow coffee farmers in my hometown. These conversations were related to the Peruvian economy. At that time, the Peruvian economy was seriously struggling. A couple of reasons were that the traditional exporting products such as coffee were affected by plagues and commodity price. It is at that time that my father and his fellow farmers mentioned the viability of making a living without cultivating and selling coffee. But how could this be possible if coffee is the only source of income, I asked myself? If this is possible, how sustainable is it?

Coffee is everything, but there is something else. Farmers not only produce coffee but other crops as well. These products are usually planted together between coffee plants. Farmers cultivate corn, beans, bananas, and other valuable eatable roots such as yuca, arracacha, and bituca. By doing this, there is no need to buy these products at the supermarkets or farmer’s market. Indeed, these products are organic and nutritious. The only two products that we have to worry about are salt and kitchen oil – my dad used to say. Well, now I understand that salt and kitchen oil are basic ingredients to make a tasty meal.

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Farmers raise animals as a source of protein and cash. The main purpose of raising animals is to consume them during important dates such as birthdays and other festivities. Most farmers raise chicken, pigs, guinea pigs, turkeys, and ducks. Yes, despite that it seems bizarre, farmers raise guinea pigs to feed their families. If the production is abundant, farmers can also trade their animals and get some cash immediately.

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It is obvious that coffee farmers have been focused on coffee as the principal source of income; however, during rough times, survival mode makes them look for other options. In the end, while this approach seems to be reasonable, the truth is that it makes farmers more vulnerable, without enough cash to face the challenges of life. What would happen when farmers and/or their families face health issues or when they aren’t able to work and want to retire?

Leave your thoughts below

Are farmers really receiving a fair price for their coffee?

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Average coffee price from 1990 to 2017

When I think about coffee, one of the questions that comes to mind is if coffee farmers are being fairly paid for their product. Lately, I’ve been doing some research and found out that well-intentioned entrepreneurs have created a few ways to fight coffee price uncertainty.

One of the programs is called FairTrade. FairTrade is a certification that is issued by an organization with the same name. This certification is issued to cooperatives in developing countries that meet certain social, environmental, ethical, etc. standards. With this certification, farmers receive a FairTrade minimum price plus a FairTrade premium for their products. According to the FairTrade website, when the market price is higher than the Fairtrade Minimum Price, producers should receive the current market price, or the price negotiated at contract signing.

Another program that has lately been gaining popularity is “Direct Trade”. With this program, consumers are reaching out to farmers directly. Coffee importers such as roasters are contacting farmers directly and paying a higher amount of money per pound of coffee according to the conversations that I have had with entrepreneurs in the Greenville area. The reason for doing this is that direct trade cuts out the middleman leaving more cash available to pay for the coffee.

However, if these two mentioned methods above seem to be quite successful, why are coffee farmers still struggling? A few days ago, I talked to my relatives in Peru and asked about the price they are currently receiving for their coffee and with a very concerned tone they said that “el café está bajo” which means that the price is very low. The price they are receiving per pound of coffee is between $0.97 and $1.08. With that price, they barely reach the break-even point. So, what’s happening? Cooperatives don’t pay the FairTrade premium to the farmers? Direct traders (roasters, individuals, etc.) are not capable to reach all the farmers to make their method the most efficient for fighting coffee price fluctuations? Perhaps FairTrade is not as efficient as it is being said. Or perhaps, direct traders don’t know how to overcome the language barrier to reach the farmers.

If you have creative ideas to fight coffee price uncertainty, please leave your comments below or reach out to me through the contact button. Our farmers need us!

Processing Coffee: “The Wet Method”

Do you know the steps in the production of green coffee*? Some of us might be aware of it, while others might not be familiar at all. If you are not familiar with the processing part, please don’t feel bad. It is my job to get you familiar with this process. Therefore, I am going to show you a short video of the “Wet Method”, which is the most popular method to produce high-quality pergamino**

*Green coffee. Coffee beans without the parchment skin ready to be roasted. 

**Pergamino. Coffee beans that still have the parchment skin. 

“The Wet Method”

 

Understanding the Coffee Harvesting Season

Why does the coffee harvesting season change from one country to another? Or why does the harvesting season change from one place to another in the same country? Or if we wanted to go deeper, what are the reasons to have two different harvesting dates in the same village?  These are some of the questions that curious people might ask themselves.

Yes, what is really bizarre is that even in the same village, the harvesting season varies from one area to another. But how can this phenomenon be possible? According to my humble experience, I can say that the answer is “altitude.” Coffee crops that are cultivated in lower geographical areas are ready to be harvested earlier in the year; whereas, the harvesting process is delayed for crops produced at a higher altitude. A clear example of this fact is my hometown, El Progreso. I clearly remember that my parents used to have two different dates to start the harvesting season. In the lower part, we used to start at the end of April or beginning of May, but in July for the higher part of my town.

My hometown and near towns are full of steep hills that make coffee crops behave differently. It is easy to walk for forty-five minutes to an hour and go from 5,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. My theory is that the change in altitude slows the maturing process of coffee. I learned in school that oxygen decreases with altitude, and consequently I believe that living beings such as coffee have a slow metabolic process. There might be more reasons, but this is what came to my mind when writing this article. If you would like to gently refute or make additional comments, please feel free to do it.

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“Chatting with a Peruvian coffee farmer” “Conversando con un cafetalero”

Here in this mini-documentary, Mr. Esgar Delgado, a Peruvian coffee farmer who lives in the small village of “El Huaco” gives us a master class about the production of coffee. He also tells his successes and struggles regarding the production of specialty coffee.

Please enjoy, comment and share this video. Let’s make these hardworking people famous…
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En este pequeño documental, don Esgar Delgado, un cafetalero peruano que vive en el caserío de “El Huaco” nos da una clase magistral de producción de café. También nos comenta sus éxitos y frustaciones acerca de la producción de cafés especiales.

Por favor disfruta, comenta, y comparte este pequeño documental. Hagamos famosos a estos agricultores que trabajan arduamente…