Coffee

Origin Report: Peru COOPAFSI & Las Damas de San Ignacio

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First
stop on the agenda for our Northern Peru origin trip was COOPAFSI which is
located in the province of San Ignacio, in the region of Cajamarca. We were
greeted by Luzmila Feliu, who is the sales and logistics coordinator for
COOPAFSI, a fair trade and organic certified cooperative which supplies Royal
Coffee NY with washed coffee under the title “Las Damas de San
Ignacio” or “The Ladies of San Ignacio”. She was eager to host
us for the first half of our trip and introduce us to other members of the
cooperative so that we could learn more about their history, coffee production,
processing, education, and quality assurance.

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Luzmila, Sales and Logistics Coordinator for COOPAFSI

Since
the inception of COOPAFSI on June 25th 1969, their main goal has been to
improve the livelihood of the producers and their families. In order to achieve
this goal, members knew they had to focus on improving the overall quality of
their coffee in order to receive higher premiums for their work and dedication.
In 1969, COOPAFSI started with just 10 producers and a priest named Francisco
Cuentas. They have since grown to just over 360 producers, 80 of which are
women. These women are not just producers; they serve the coop as board
members, Q-graders, sales and logistics coordinators and in other roles.

Cruz
Maria, Herlinda Tocto and Maria Emita are just a few of the female producers who
we met throughout our visit, and they were thrilled to hear that their coffee
is reaching new audiences in the United States. Their coffee is exported under
the name of “Las Damas de San Ignacio” which identifies them as a
women-run committee within the coop, allowing them to
create a new brand name and distinct cup profiles for their lots. The women
from the coop have joined together for various activities such as
communications classes at their computer lab, sewing clubs, selling produce at
farmer’s markets, and education programs aimed at improving the quality of the
coffee production on their farms. During our first two farm visits I kept
hearing the word “chacra” used in place of “finca” for a coffee farm. After
asking around, I was informed that the word “chacra” was a feminine noun, used
to identify a small farm with fruits, vegetables, animals and coffee all
together.

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Herlinda Tocto and her family

Since
2013, producers in Peru have been finding new
ways to combat la roya or coffee
leaf rust, a fungus that typically affects 30%-40% of the country’s total crop.. Since production has been up 7% this year, preventing la roya

is a major concern. I was pleased to hear
how proactive COOPAFSI is in fighting la roya and setting forth
preventative measures to avoid losing high quality lots to this fungus. La
roya
usually thrives in a warmer climate, affecting coffee production at
lower altitudes. In order to prevent
this from becoming an ongoing issue, the coop and its members starting planting
roya-resistant varietals at lower altitudes (such as Catimor) and better-quality
varietals at the higher altitude elevations throughout the farm. In order to improve
the cup quality of the lower altitude Catimor, producers are blending it with
Typica or Mundo Novo. Improvements with fertilizers and compost have aided the
fight against la roya, allowing producers to plant better varietals
throughout their farms without risking their cup quality. Implementing a shade
grown practice on the farms has also helped combat the leaf rust as shade trees
provide cooler temperature, supply nutrients to the soil surrounding the coffee
and they eliminate the direct sunlight.

In
addition to learning about their coffee production and processing, technicians
Nestor and Harry spoke briefly regarding some new education courses and
projects for producers and family members at the coop. Their overall
mission is to educate producers on better practices to improve quality,
biodiversity, safety and health – which in return would provide a better income
and living standards for all. These new projects focus on quality assurance and
innovations at the farms such as: covered drying patios to assist with drying
during problematic weather conditions, distribution of new/higher scoring
varietals such as bourbon, improved water purification system for the
wastewater on farms using bamboo, and the promotion of biodiversity on
individual farms.

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A model of drying patios to be constructed on each COOPAFSI member’s farm

COOPAFSI is just one cooperative among the many in Peru
to offer fair trade/organic/RFA coffee, but what makes them standout is the
importance of family, their respect for nature, and their motivation to excel
in quality. Not only are they assisting producers in all aspects of coffee
production, they are painting a picture for the future, showing these women and
men that they can only get better at what they do if they preserve the
environment around them. Global warming has caused a shift in climate patterns
in major coffee producing origins and we certainly heard many speak of this
issue while in Peru. Most of their production is delayed about 15-30 days on
average due to heavy rains early in the harvest. Fortunately, COOPAFSI has
guardiolas available at the mill, allowing them to quickly adapt to these
unfortunate climate changes. Despite the delayed harvest schedule and difficult
weather conditions for picking and drying, they were still able to provide us
with samples representing a range of profiles for their washed macro
lots such as “Las Damas de San Ignacio” and micro lots from all
members of the cooperative. We are excited to receive these coffees starting in
August, and we are even more excited to explore this micro lot project with them
towards the end of their harvest in September/October, which is when all of the
high-altitude coffees will be completing their harvest. Producers are
experimenting with different fermentation practices, presenting us with a range
of complex and unique lots utilizing varietals such as bourbon and yellow
caturra. We look forward to receiving these coffees and sharing them with you
all!

Please contact Brittany Amell
(b.amell@royalny.com) with any
questions or speak to your trader to hear more about upcoming lots from “Las
Damas de San Ignacio”

The second installment of our Peru origin report will come next week, as Chris Schoenhut talks us through our partnership with Sol y Cafe, another major cooperative.

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Anthony Chango