The Complete Guide to Peruvian Coffee
Climate, topography and terroir are just a few similarities Peru shares with its behemoth coffee-producing neighbour, Colombia.
Located in the Andean region of South America, Peruvian coffee is grown at high elevations with temperatures that enable beans to evolve steadily, resulting in a complex cup and clean flavour profile.
While coffee growing in Peru dates back to the 1700s, organic coffee production is relatively new to this origin. Today, Peru is becoming globally recognised as one of the best coffee-producing countries in the world.
If you’re new to Peru coffee, keep reading to learn about these beans and all they offer.
Shop Peruvian coffee beans
Treehouse Espresso Blend
Río Tambo, Peru (w. Ecuador & Brazil)
£8.50 (250g) / £28 (1kg)
San Martín, Peru
£9.00 (250g) / £29.95 (1kg)
A quick history of Peruvian coffee
Coffee in Peru has an interesting history. It was first introduced to the country in the mid-18th century when Jesuit missionaries from Ecuador planted coffee shrubs in the city of Jauja.
The story goes that the Jesuit missionaries brought these coffee plants to Peru as part of their missionary efforts to spread Christianity alongside sustainable farming throughout South America.
The missionaries were renowned for their advanced knowledge of agriculture, and helped introduce new crops and growing techniques in the regions they worked.
As time passed, coffee became commercialised in the northern coastal regions of La Libertad, Lambayeque and Piura. Throughout the 1800s, demand for Peruvian coffee grew, and coffee production expanded to the mountainous areas.
By 1851, the Lima-Calleo railroad had been established, a development that played a crucial role in Peru’s coffee history. The introduction of rail transport enabled coffee beans to be transported more efficiently from coffee farms to the coast for export.
In the 1900s, Peruvian coffee farmers and exporters faced significant challenges:
- Increased competition impacted international market prices, causing declining coffee crop profits
- Government changes and political instability and government changes caused social unrest and economic uncertainty
- Environmental issues and natural disasters harmed coffee crops and disrupted the supply chain
Despite all of this, producers in Peru have continued to show resilience, adapting to changes and developing practices to improve the quality of their coffees.
What makes Peruvian coffee special?
There are lots of things that make Peruvian coffee unique. Each Andean region has its own microclimate with individual environmental conditions such as altitude, humidity, soil type and biodiversity. These microclimates give way to a wide range of coffee varietals, and as a result, Peruvian coffee offers huge diversity in its flavour profiles.
In addition, the high altitudes in the Andean mountains offer cooler temperatures and higher levels of rainfall, enabling slower coffee cherry maturation for dense beans with complex flavours.
Is Peru coffee robusta or arabica?
The majority of coffee produced in Peru is arabica, a higher-quality speciality coffee. In lower altitude regions of Peru, robusta coffee is grown, but far less so than arabica beans.
Many Peruvian coffee regions are suited to cultivating varieties of arabica, which has led to Peru becoming the fifth largest exporter of arabica coffee globally.
What does Peruvian coffee taste like?
When it comes to taste, Peruvian coffee offers a wide range of flavour profiles unique to the region it's grown in. As a result of the country's many microclimates, Peruvian coffee beans offer a fusion of flavours that make for a complex cup.
Beans produced in the Andean regions tend to be medium-bodied with mild acidity and nutty or floral notes. In contrast, in areas of lower altitudes, coffees tend to be sweeter with bright acidity.
Peru coffee flavour profiles
|San Martin||Caturra, Catimor, Bourbon||Nutty, chocolate, fruity, caramel|
|Cajamarca||Caturra, Typica, Bourbon||Caramel, fruity, floral|
|Amazonas||Caturra, Catimor, Typica||Fruity, caramel, chocolate|
|Pasco||Paramara, Bourbon, Caturra, Pache, Catimor||Fruity, caramel, chocolate|
|Piura||Caturra, Catimor, Typica||Caramel, fruity, floral|
|Cutervo||Pache, Bourbon, Typica, Catimor, Pacamara||Vanilla, molasses|
Pache, Bourbon, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Pache, Geisha
|Fruity, caramel, chocolate|
The best coffee in Peru
As mentioned, Peru has become widely recognised for its wide variety of single origins, with small-scale farmers adopting sustainable practices and organic farming methods to grow specialty grade coffees.
Typically, the best coffee in Peru is found in the northern Peru Andes, where arabica coffee thrives.
Cusco, Cajamarca, Amazonas and San Martin make up just a few of Peru's top coffee-growing regions, globally recognised as being home to some of the highest quality single-origin coffees in the world.
Where to buy Peruvian coffee?
We're such big fans of coffee from Peru that it's now one of the seven origins we source our coffee from.
If you'd like to try Peruvian coffee, we have a couple of house espressos that will always be on offer. In addition, we'll be adding new and exciting roasts based on seasonal coffees we source from the region - watch this space!
|Single Origin||Rio Tambo||Catimor, Caturi||1,250 - 1,330 MASL||Pistachio, white chocolate||£8.75 SOLD OUT|
Río Tambo, Finca Santa Petrona, Caixa de Fruta
|Caturra, Pacamara, Typica||1,000 - 1,650 MASL||Lemon curd, pineapple cake, malted milk||£8.50|
|Catimor, Caturi||1,250 - 1,330 MASL||Macadamia, butterscotch, white grape||£9.00|
Our latest house espresso, Greenhouse, is a single origin that will be seasonally roasted with beans from two regions in Peru, depending on availability:
- San Martín: The country's third largest coffee-producing region, situated in the north of Peru. With the Amazon rainforest to the east and the Andes to the west, the area boasts lush vegetation, rich biodiversity and wildlife.
- Río Tambo: A southern region of Peru named after the Tambo River. Home to canyons, valleys and mountain ranges, boasting optimum altitudes, fertile soils and climate conditions.
Challenges facing Peruvian coffee farmers
Coffee farmers in Peru grapple with significant growing challenges - including lengthy dry seasons, extreme temperatures, rising humidity levels and pests.
Despite producers in this region making considerable efforts to adapt to changes, the speed at which the impacts of climate change are being felt is accelerating. Some of the main challenges facing growers include:
- Climate change: Coffee production is reliant on environmental conditions like temperature and rainfall, making coffee crops vulnerable to climate change.
- Lack of access: Limited access to modern equipment, technology, financial resources and training which limits productivity and yields for many small -scale farmers.
- Deforestation: Unsustainable coffee farming methods like slash-and-burn practices are causing soil erosion, biodiversity loss, microclimate changes, water scarcity and threatening the industry's future.
- Pests: Outbreaks of fungus, like yellow rust, can spread through coffee plantations causing significant damage. The presence of pests decreases quality and yield, while increasing farmer costs and negative environmental impacts.
Supporting Peru's coffee sector
Ethical sourcing with green import partners
Through our partnership with green importer Volcafe, we're able to ensure Peruvian coffee farmers are fairly compensated for their craft.
Volcafe have been working with local coffee producers for decades now. In 2014, they launched their farmer support programme Volcafe Way, helping to support thousands of farmers with agronomy and business training. Volcafe Way has been responsible for:
- Providing direct technical assistance to improve quality and productivity of yields
- Carrying out sustainable production and agronomy training for future generations
- Creating business farm models as learning hubs for surrounding communities
- Integrating sustainability into the supply chain for roasters and consumers
As well as educating and training Peruvian coffee producers in the most effective and environmentally friendly ways of speciality coffee production, they also invest in local communities too.
To date, they have helped to build schools, roads and the general infrastructure needed to support a thriving coffee producing industry.
Agroforestry project support with coffee donations
To help tackle issues like deforestation, we've partnered with certified B Corp Treedom to plant trees through coffee sales.
An estimated 25% of the country’s deforestation is linked to coffee production. Soil infertility leads many producers to employ slash-and-burn practices, which see the land used for a single harvest before being abandoned, and the process getting repeated elsewhere.
These unsustainable practices further reduce suitable cultivation areas for coffee producers, who require more extensive resources to revive the soils than available.
Through our partnership with Treedom, we're growing our own forest - The Odd Wood, which will:
- Plant 1 tree per 5kg of Greenhouse coffee sold
- Support agroforestry projects in Kenya, Colombia, Malawi and Tanzania
- Fund a variety of native species carefully selected to meet farmer needs, including coffee shrubs, papaya plants, cacao and guava trees
"As a roaster, we are responsible for ensuring best practice when it comes to buying coffee and ensuring the farmers we source from have been fairly compensated for their craft. We are also responsible for taking steps to ensure long-term stability for the coffee industry by working towards a better climate future.
The synergy between our partnership with Treedom, supported through the sales of coffee beans sourced by Volcafe, highlights key links between habitat protection, agroforestry practices and sustainable profitability within complex climate and supply chain systems."