Everything you need to know about Peruvian coffee

Peter Lancashire
July 29, 2022
Everything you need to know about Peruvian coffee

Peruvian coffee has been touted as one of the “dark horses” in the specialty coffee industry, with recent quality and production levels reaching all-time highs.

In 2019, green coffee production in the country reached the highest output of the decade, amounting to almost 4.39 million 60kg bags. That said, Peru offers far more than just quantity when it comes to coffee.

The country has 10 different producing regions, each of which offers its own unique cup profile. Great Peruvian coffees are often grown at altitudes above 1,800 metres, with the majority of plants being typica varieties. 

Additionally, Peru is the world’s leading producer of certified Fair Trade and organic arabica coffee. So, with ideal growing altitudes, great typica varieties, and certifications that specialty coffee consumers often look for, why is Peruvian coffee not found among other first class coffees?

Find out how to roast Peruvian coffee in order to highlight its unique characteristics and flavour profiles.

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An image of black coffee in ceramic cup in an article about Peruvian coffee, Peruvian coffee flavour profiles and how to roast Peruvian coffee

A brief history of Peruvian coffee

While Perus has only recently entered the spotlight for its high-quality lots, coffee has been grown in the country since the 1700s. 

That said, the coffee grown was mostly for local consumption. This changed during the 1800s, when an epidemic of coffee leaf rust destroyed a number of crops. As a result, the global market has to find new origins to help fill the demand quickly.

England began to invest heavily in Peru’s coffee-growing infrastructure, buying two million hectares of farmland to set up plantations. 

As a result, coffee production made up more than half of the Peruvian economy. It has since grown into the fifth largest exporter of coffee in South America, and the ninth largest coffee exporter globally, according to the International Coffee Organisation (ICO).

That said, Peru is still recovering from a large-scale coffee leaf rust infestation which decimated the local industry. This has seen farmers invest in replacing their coffee plants with disease-resistant varieties.

Additionally, many Peruvian farmers are adopting various certifications that appeal to modern coffee consumers. A growing number of farms have also become Fair Trade and organic certified, while coming together to create regional cooperatives.

These cooperatives aim to give farmers a better chance of receiving higher prices for their coffee, and in turn, better wages for their workers.

An image of coffee growing landscapes in Peru to grow Peruvian coffee in an article about how to roast Peruvian coffee, flavour profiles of Peruvian coffee.

Growing regions & flavour profiles of Peruvian coffee

Peru’s coffee-growing regions are located between the Amazon basin and the Pacific coastline, with the three main areas being the central, northern, and southern highlands. 

The Amazonas and San Martin, located on the eastern slopes of the Andes, make up almost 50% of Peru’s coffee production.

The majority of Peru’s coffee crops are made up of arabica plants, with typica, caturra, catimor, and bourbon varieties growing in the country.

Around 75% of the country’s growing region sits between 1000 and 1800 metres above sea level, while most farms focus on shade-grown coffee and hand-picking the cherries.

With over 200,000 acres of organic land designated for growing coffee, the potential for quality from Peru is incredibly high. Each growing region tends to produce different flavour profiles, which have helped diversify the country’s coffee exports.

Northern Peru is known to produce coffee with balanced acidity, good body, and classic notes of sweet chocolate and nuts. 

Coffee grown in central Peru tends to see more fruity flavours paired with a smooth, creamy body, higher acidity, and a rounded sweetness. 

One of the most sought-after growing regions can be found to the East, in the Chinchamayo Valley. Notably, wet processed coffee from the region has the best reputation among Peruvian coffees.

Additionally, the Cuzco region, particularly the Urubamba Valley, also produces well-respected wet processed coffee.

More so, certified organic coffees from small farmer cooperatives in Northern Peru are often of excellent quality. These also represent the socially progressive side of specialty coffee. 

Southern Peru has gained a reputation for having complex flavour profiles, and has some of the best organic growing conditions. 

The majority of the coffee produced in the area comes from micro-lots. Consumers can expect an array of fruits and florals, with an intricate acidity and juicy body.

A close up image of a coffee roaster in an article on how to roast Peruvian coffee, flavour profiles of Peruvian coffee, and growing regions for Peruvian coffee.

Roasting Peruvian coffee

Peruvian coffee beans are incredibly versatile, providing roasters with an opportunity to experiment with roast profiles. 

A light roast can help keep as many of the intricate flavours of the coffee intact. That said, many roasters tend to favour a more developed medium or dark roast profile. 

A medium roast can help intensify the original roasted and grainy flavour of the coffee. A dark roast emphasises the natural components of the flavour profile and aroma, and tends to brew a smooth, silky and robust cup of coffee. 

Important to note is the majority of Peruvian farmers use the washed or wet method when processing the beans. 

When paired with the high altitude of the country’s quality growing regions, this produces a higher density bean. Therefore, roasters are asvised to add more heat at the start of the roast.

A close up image of a multilayer kraft paper coffee bag with roasted coffee spilling out on wood counter in an article about Peruvian coffee and roasting Peruvian coffee.

Peruvian coffee may not yet be common on many roaster’s shelves, but the potential for excellent quality coffee is there.

Additionally, the significant number of certified organic and Fair Trade farms means roasters gain an additional level of trust in the farms they source from. 

This means they are getting more value for money when investing in beans from the South American country. 

In order to introduce consumers to the unique flavours of Peruvian coffee, its freshness must be preserved through to the final cup.

The team at MTPak Coffee can provide specialty roasters and coffee shops with a range of high-quality, recyclable, compostable and biodegradable packaging solutions. Our line of coffee bags are made from renewable resources such as kraft paper and rice paper.

Additionally, we are able to digitally print custom coffee bags to convey the unique characteristics of Peruvian coffee. We offer a 40-hour turnaround and 24-hour shipping time, as well as low minimum order quantities (MOQs) no matter what packaging size or material used.

For more information on sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

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