Scattered throughout the Incahuasi Valley in Peru’s southern region of Cusco are more than 10 small, coffee-producing communities whose farmers grow mostly Bourbon, Caturra, and Paché varieties. At altitudes ranging from 1,600–2,400 meters above sea level, these communities are thinly connected by limited road access through the harsh Andean landscape. Nevertheless, the communities remain irrevocably linked by their Inca heritage and focus on quality coffee production. The resulting coffee is reminiscent of golden raisin, vanilla, and almond.
Starting in 2018, a majority of the coffee was dried on African-style raised beds. Many individual farms, in addition to the central community processing stations, transitioned their drying from patios or tarps on the ground, to the improved practice of drying on the raised beds. This took a major investment on behalf of the cooperative and individual producers, in materials and labor, but is something that should result in better quality and access to higher prices.
Founded in early 2005, the Incahuasi Valley Cooperative brings together nearly a dozen communities in an effort to promote specialty coffee production. Through heavy investments in centralized wet mills, drying facilities, organized warehousing, farming education, and marketing, the cooperative has made great improvements to the stability of this region. Initial tasting, inspections, and analysis of coffee occurs at a central warehouse and quality control lab in Andahuaylas, some four hours away from the nearest producers. Quality separation and grading begins in this lab regardless of whether the coffee is a small single-farmer lot or a large community lot.
Although there are some farmers who depulp, ferment, wash, and dry coffee on their own land, most of the group’s coffee cherries are centrally collected and processed to form larger community lots. Notably, some of the communities represented include Apaylla, Amaybamba, Pacaybamba, and Pacaypata.
We first tasted—and subsequently purchased—a small amount of coffee from this group in 2015. In 2018, we tasted more than 60 samples from Incahuasi, about a third of which were lots from single farmers. Showcasing farmers doing excellent work reflects the groups devotion to pursuing quality.
We're excited to continue building upon the progress from the early, foundational years working with this cooperative as we work toward a robust supply chain that brings great coffee to our customers while directly supporting the communities in this remote region of Peru.