Rutas del Inca
Coffee producers in Peru often cultivate coffee at impressive altitudes. This is no different for the Rutas del Inca producers. All six farms lie between 2100 and 2400 meters above sea level. Frost damage is a real treat at this altitude. The average temperature oscillates around 16°C. This low temperature is one of the factors that contribute to the slow maturation of the coffee cherries. Thanks to this, the plants develop complex acids in the cherries, leading to intense and refined coffees. The cool temperature also greatly impacts on the fermentation of the cherries. The fermentation process slows down at cooler temperatures, leading to longer fermentation times in order to break down all the mucilage. The producers for this lot all fermented their coffee for 36 hours.
Varieties for this Tambillo lot are Bourbon, Caturra and Typica. In the community of Tambillo, the peak of the harvest falls at the end of the Peru season in August – September.
Producer members of Rutas del Inca all built their own processing unit on their farm with the support of their cooperative. Each producer has a fermentation tank, washing tank, depulping machine and drying structure. Coffee harvest on the small farms is manual, which allows the pickers to be precise in which cherries they pick. After picking, the coffee passes through the depulping machine to tear off the cherry skin and flesh. The sticky parchment sits in a tank until the mucilage is broken down. After fermentation, the coffee is washed in the small tanks on each producer’s own farm. The parchment dries for 10 to 12 days in full sun until it reaches 12% moisture content. Finally, Rutas del Inca takes further care of processing and selling its members’ coffee.
Rutas del Inca is a fairly new cooperative, located deep in the Cajamarca department of northern Peru. Historically, Cajamarca has been an important mining region because of its mineral resources. Only recently the region gained popularity as one of Peru’s high-potential coffee growing regions. The history of the Rutas del Inca cooperative has close ties to this mining history. Many large mining companies try to compensate for past mistakes by supporting the socioeconomic development of local communities. For its high potential in the region, the conversion to coffee cultivation received a lot of support from these companies. With the funding, new cooperatives were created, among which Rutas del Inca, and farmers changed their traditional crops (potatoes, livestock,…) to the cash crop.
Since these new cooperatives received substantial financial resources, they were able to invest in planting high-quality varieties like Caturra, Typica and Pache. To make all that potential real, they also invested in proper infrastructure at each plantation so every single producer could properly process his coffee cherries. The cooperative provides technical support to its members through quality training and field support from agronomists.